Imperialism, as Lenin showed 100 years ago, is a new stage in the development of capitalism characterized by a number of features: monopoly replaces free competition between capitalists, industrial capital and banking capital become intertwined through big bankers acquiring shares in industry and big industrialists acquiring shares in banks, export of capital begins to replace export of commodities and great capitalist powers, having more or less finished to divide the world, begin a struggle to re-divide it, which eventually leads to global inter-imperialist war.
Unfortunately, there are people who call themselves Communists but have no idea as to how Lenin defined imperialism and horribly distort Lenin’s teachings on imperialism, to the point they deny certain imperialist states are imperialist. More specifically, they deny that Russia and China are imperialist because they mistake a derived feature of imperialism (a strong labour aristocracy as often expressed in a high GDP per head) for a defining one, they do not understand that although all countries with a high GDP per head are imperialist not all imperialist countries have a high GDP per head and that is because they do not understand a strong labour aristocracy is a BYPRODUCT of export of capital and not the other way around. The high GDP per head is a strong indication of imperialism but it does NOT define imperialism because it’s just a BYPRODUCT of imperialism and, like any byproduct of something else, it may or may not exist without affecting the nature of that something else. Russia posseses all the defining feature of imperialism: it has monopoly capital in the form of very large corporations, both privately- and state-owned, it has intertwining of banks and industries, it has export of capital through some of the largest multinationals in the world (yes, MULTINATIONALS is the word, for all too often we see uneducated fools calling Russian- and Chinese-, corporations „national), it has a very large sphere of influence, the CIS, which it aggresively seeks to expand plus, we may add, it has all the military muscle any sensible military analyst can think of in order to be indeed able to expand it. Let us analyse these features piecemeal.
1. Russia has monopoly capital in the form of large coporations stifling the free competition. Metallurgical giants like Rusal, Norilsk, Severstal, Novolipetsk, Mechel, banking giants like Gazprombank (state-owned) and Alfa Bank, energy giants like Gazprom (state-owned), Rosneft (state-owned), Lukoil, they all stifle competition a great deal. And we, as Marxists, know that monopoly capital, along with the birth of finance capital through the intertwining of banks and industry are always the first steps towards export of capital, which is imperialism in its „purest” economic form and which in turn is the driving force behind political imperialism.
2. The intertwining of banks and industries is something we can see by checking the websites of many Russian corporations. Let us begin with the man who technically qualifies as the richest banker in the world, Mikhail Friedman, head, as majority shareholder of Alfa Group. Majority shareholder of Alfa Banking Group, he also deals in insurance, through Alfa Strakhovanie Group, one of the largest insurance companies in Russia, in water utilities and waste disposal through Rosvodokanal Group as well as food retail through X5 Retail Group N.V.
The water utilities operator Rosvodokanal „has been reorganized into an interregional holding company, which is principally engaged in providing water and wastewater management services to commercial enterprises, public sector organizations and residental customers as well as providing related construction, repair and consulting services.”
As to its revenues, they reached US $ 471 million in 2013, while total assets amounted to US $ 449 million.
Another prominent example of big capitalist who deals in both banking and industry is none other than World King (or, better said, Czar) of Alluminium, Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska has shares in Bank Soyuz, one of the largest private banks in Russia, employing over 1500 people, ranking 33 in Profile’s magazine „Most secure of the100 largest banks in Russia” in april 2012. Deripaska also has interests in one of Russia’s largest insurer. Ingosstrakh, which employs more than 6000 people and has 83 branches all around Russia, with 221 representative offices in the regions. You can see all this at http://www.deripaska.com/business/?SECTION_ID=45
3. Russia is one of the largest exporters of capital in the world, boasting some of the largest multinationals in the world (MULTINANTIONAL in EXACTLY the same sense Western multinationals are, that of companies operating all over the world but either based in one superpower or controlled by citizens of that superpower who may also be residents in that given superpower). Since export of capital is the MOST BASIC form of economic imperialism, from which most other forms of economic and non-economic imperialism spring up, due to the most basic feature of capitalist exploitation it embodies, that of an employer from one country exploiting workers from another country, I consider it appropriate and useful to deal with it at greater length.
a) The Rusal Global Empire and the World Czar of Aluminium
It is a Russian company that qualifies as the largest aluminium company in the world, it is a Russian, citizen and resident of Russia, who controls the largest aluminium company in the world, now aluminium is a strategic industry given aluminium being the main component for the manufacturing of aircraft. By controling the supply of aluminium you can control the aircraft industry not just in your country but in other countries in which you have investment as well. This is what makes Oleg Deripaska one of the most powerful capitalists not just in Russia but indeed in the whole world.
Here are some figures on Rusal:
a)1. It employs over 67 000 people all across the globe
a)2. It accounts for 8% global aluminium production and 7% of global alumina production
a)3. It has 47 plants in 13 countries on 5 continents. Among the countries Rusal has gained a foothold in are Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Guyana etc. More at http://www.rusal.ru/en/about/facts.aspx
a)4. Deripaska controls Rusal through his En+ company, in turn controlled by him through his Basic Element. En+ has 48.13% shares in Rusal, other shareholders are the Russian group Onexim with 17.02%, another Russian group, SUAL, with 15.80% and the Western group Glencore with just 8.755, through Amokenga Holdings, as seen here: http://www.rusal.ru/en/investors/to_shareholders/structure.aspx
a)5 Rusal also holds a 25% plus two shares stake in another Russian metallurgical giant, Norilsk Nickel, which is why Norilsk Nickel is next in our outline of Russian imperialism.
b) The Norilsk Global Empire, world’s largest producer of nickel and paladium
Norilsk Nickel is also one of the world’s leading producers of platinum and copper. It has production facilities on 3 continents and 5 countries: Russia, Australia, Finland, Botswana and South Africa.
b)1. The Norilsk Empire in Finland owns the country’s only nickel refining plant, that of Harjavalta, with a capacity to produce 60 000 tonnes of nickel products per year. „In 2009, the Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta produced nearly 28 5000 tonnes of saleable nickel and more than 12 300 tonnes of saleable nickel under tolling agreements” (http://www.nornik.ru/en/about-norilsk-nickel/operations/norilsk-nickel-finland1)
b)2. The Norilsk Empire in Australia includes 5 facillities: the nickel fields of Silver Swan and Black Swan, with an enrichment plant with a processing capacity of 2.2 Mtpa ore, that of Cawse, with an enrichment plant with a 1.4 Mtpa ore processing capacity, that of Avalon, that of Lake Johnston (with two underground mines, an enrichment plant processing ore with a maximum capacity of 1.5 Mtpa ore) and of Honeyomoon Well, with large nickel fields at Yakabindie and Cosmos. (http://www.nornik.ru/en/about-norilsk-nickel/operations/norilsk-nickel-australia1)
b)3. The Norilsk Empire in Botswana comprises the Tati Nickel Mining Company, in which Norilsk has 85% of shares, the remaining 15% belonging to the Botswanan Government. The company has the following facilities: the Phoenix open-type nickel mine, the Selkirk underground nickel mine, currently being prepared for open-pit development, and the Phoenix Enrichment Plant, with a processing capacity of maximum 12.0 Mtpa ore. In 2011 the company produced 7000 metric tonnes of saleable nickel, 6000 metric tonnes of saleable copper plus 31 000 ounces of platinum and 6000 ounces of palladium. (http://www.nornik.ru/en/about-norilsk-nickel/operations/norilsk-nickel-africa1/tati-nickel
b)4. The Norilsk Empire in South Africa holds „just” 50% of the shares in the Nikomati nickel mine, the rest being held by African Rainbow Minerals.
c) Two steelmaking giants with high global ambitions: Severstal and Novolipetsk
c)1. Severstal is a steelmaking giant on a par with giants in other imperialist countries- back in 2006 was a bidder for the takeover of the Western giant Arcelor but it lost to Mittal. It has steel and mining assets in Russia, the United States (The United States!, so much for silly Zyuganovites who keep on parroting the 1990s mantra that Russia „must not allow herself to be subjugated by America”), Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Italy, Liberia and Brazil (http://www.severstal.com/eng/about/company_history/index.phtml).
Who owns Severstal? Russian billionaire Alexey Mordashov is the main shareholder, with no less than 79.2% shares (a very high figure compared to how many shares Western billionaires tend to own in their companies, which is one of the reasons Russia has more billionaires than ANY other country in the world except for The United States and China), according to http://www.severstal.com/eng/ir/share_capital/index.phtml
c)2. Novolipetsk is another steelmaking giant with global ambitions. Once again, you stupid Zyuganovites, it’s not just the American capital tat seeks to dominate Russia, it can be the other way around too. Novolipetsk has three production sites in the United States, namely NLMK Indiana, NLMK Pennsylvania and NLMK Sharon Coating, totalizing a steelmaking capacity of roughly 730 000 metric tonnes and a hot rolling capacity of 2.7 million tonnes (http://nlmk.com/company/whereweoperate/map-of-main-assets). Novolipetsk also boasts 4 production sites in Europe (in Sweden, Blegium, Germany, Italy) and two trading subsidiaries, in Switzerland and Cyprus (ibid.). Like Severstal, Novolipetsk is controlled by a Henry Ford-type of share-with-almost-noone capital, Vladimir Lisin, who owns 85.54% of shares, through Fletcher Group Holdings Limited (http://nlmk.com/investor-relations/shareholder-centre/shareholder-structure).
d)Lukoil, another global Russian empire
Another undisputed multinational from Russia (undisputed except for those who are stuck 50 or 60 years in the past, still fighting the Cold War) is Lukoil. It is the largest privately owned oil and gas company in the world in terms of proven oil reserves and the third largest privately owned oil and gas company in the world by oil production (http://www.lukoil.com/static_6_5id_29_.html). It is a global brand, with oil and gas exploration and production projects in no less than 13 countries even though just 10% of its marketable hydrocarbon production takes place outside of Russia (ibid.) It is controlled by the Alekperov family, headed by Vagit Alekperov, technically the richest oil-man in the world, a Russified ethnic Azeri who served as vice-minister of oil in Brezhnev’s time. Some of its most important assets abroad include:
d)1. The Petrotel refinery in Ploiesti, Romania
d)2. The Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria
Valekperov’s empire also has shares in two refineries in Western Europe, one in Italy (ISAB refinery complex) and one in Holland (the Zeeland refinery), according to http://www.lukoil.com/static_6_5id_257_.html.
It is also a developer of oilfields and gasfields in countries with the Russian sphere of influence, namely Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. But what makes Lukoil truly notorious worldwide is its global network of gas-filling stations, which some conceited blockheads, if we are to believe this at all, actually mistake for… export of raw materials when they constitute in fact a clear form of export of CAPITAL. A gas station is an enterprise owned by a capitalist who hires- and fires!-, wage workers, therefore a Lukoil-owned gas station in Romania is a form of export of CAPITAL to Romania, not of raw commodities! Lukoil’s empire of gas stations outside of Russia consists of 3443 filling station and 73 tank form facilities, with a reservoir capacity of 1.6 million cubic meters. By contrast, only 2424 filling stations are owned by Lukoil in Russia, along with 93 storage facilities, with a total capacity of just 0.9 million cubic meters. In terms of dealing in oil distribution facilities, Lukoil is primarily a multinational giant and only second a Russian one. It is one of the most powerful means in the hands of the Russian mega-bourgeoisie to control weaker and maybe not-so-weaker countries, to keep them on a tight leash in a manner not at all different from that employed by Western imperialists.
e) Gazprom, a state-owned global capitalist empires
As any true Marxist knows, not all state-ownership constitutes Socialism. State-ownership that is run in a bourgeois way, with profits put above the needs of the people, is in fact a peculiar form of capitalist ownership. The gas-giant Gazprom constitutes a form of state-owned capitalist empire and it too has global ambitions (it ought however to be pointed out that in Russia the private bourgeoisie has a clear lead over the state bourgeoisie, not just in terms of higher individual profits for heads of private companies but also in terms of a higher ratio of the private sector to the GDP, around 65%, and in all likelihood this lead will widen even further).
Let’s look at Gazprom’s presence outside Russian borders, at Gazprom’s export of capital, aka economic imperialism, that is. Besides owning 18% of the world’s reserves of natural gas and 70% of Russia’s, Gazprom has oil projects in many, many countries, both within the Russian Empire, the CIS, and outside it. In 2010 for example an agreement was signed between Gazprom and the government of Equatorial Guinea for the development of two offshore blocks with an estimated recoverable oil reserves of some 110 million tons, a project in which Gazprom, like a colonial master of the Western fashion, will hold an absolute control, in the form of no less than 80% shares. A subsidiary of Gazprom, the Serbian oil company NIS is active in Serbia, a country that is alligned with Russia against what undoubtedly constitutes Serbia’s bigger enemy, Western imperialism but on which Russian capital too can practice resource-stealing if the benefits of doing it can outweigh the benefits of keeping firm to the strategic alliance (http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/reserves/).
But it is always in the colonies of a given imperialism, it is always in the countries within a given imperialism’s sphere of influence that imperialist plundering takes on its worst forms. And Russia’s colonial empire is the CIS, everything outside it is just a potential colony, in which plunder can sometimes be accompanied by courtship of potential allies. So let’s look at how Gazprom’s export of capital is faring in CIS countries.
e)1. Uzbekistan. This vast and quite impoverished country used to be one of the most exploited places by Russian imperialism before the 1917 Revolution, being used for intensive growing of cotton in the benefits of Russian landlords and capitalists. After the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and Russia it has also been exploited for oil and gas.
The Shakhpakhty gas field is being developed by Gazprom jointly with the Uzbek National company Uzbekneftgaz. The total amount of gas produced here from august 2004 to july 2010 alone was 1597 billion cubic meters. Joint development with Uzbekneftgaz are also being carried out in the Ustyurt Plateau. Licenses for 7 investment blocks were awarded to Gazprom by Uzbekneftgaz in december 2006. See http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/projects/deposits/uzbekistan/.
e)2. Kyrgyzstan is an even more impoverished Central Asian colony of Russian imperialism and, despite the much vaunted presence of a single US military base at Manas, which was established under mutual agreement with Russia by the way, and which is due to be closed down soon, anyway, no reasonable analyst can doubt that, politically and economically, Kyrgyzstan is firmly within the RUSSIAN sphere of influence. The enrichment of the metropolis AS A WHOLE at the expense of the colony can be seen very clearly in the relation between Russia and Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and especially Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, for in Russia too a labour aristocracy, not nearly as strong as in the West yet, can clearly be seen growing in the large Russian cities of Moscow and Skt Petersburg, at the expense of the poorer Russian industrial regions but ESPECIALLY of CIS colonies with an African-like standard of living, primarily Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A detailed presentation of Gazprom’s involvment in Kyrgyzstan can be seen at http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/projects/deposits/kyrgyzstan. Suffices to say that in 2008 Gazprom got from the Kyrgyz government the subsurface use licenses for geological exploration of the Kugart and Eastern Mailisu areas; Kugart is of particular interest, estimates of its reserves of natural gas reaching up to 17.3 billion cubic meters and of its oil and gas condensate reaching up to 4 million tons. Following the 2010 political unrest in Kyrgyzstan exploration activities were suspended but in 2011 were resumed.
f) A regional banking empire than holds many CIS countries in its grip
We shall return now to Alfa Banking Group, the domain of the world’s richest banker, Mikhail Friedman ( 36.47% of the group’s shares are owned by him, 23.27% by German Khan, one of his life-long partners, 18.12% by A. Kuzmichev, 13.76% by Pyotr Aven, 4.3% by A. Knaster and 4.08% by A. Kosogov, see http://alfabank.com/investor/ownership).
Although it has a presence in Western countries like Great Britain and Holland, the group’s main focus is the CIS. It has branches in Kazakhstan, Ukraine (which lies half outside the CIS now) and Belarus. In Kazakhstan the banking group has 4 branches, in Astana, Aktau, Atyrau and Ust-Kamenogorsk, as well as 3 representative offices in Uralsk, Karaganda and Pavlodar. In Belarus it has a head office in the capital Minsk and 17 branches throughout all of the country’s regions, catering to large industrial enterprises in metallurgy, energy sector, food industry etc (http://alfabank.com/belarus). In Ukraine the bank was, as of July 2014, the 11th largest bank in the country in terms of total assets, the 8th largest in terms of loans to individuals, the 11th largest in terms of loans to legal entitites and the 11th largest in terms of loans of customer accounts of individual, according to http://alfabank.com/ukraine/.
There can be no doubt that the Russian mega-bourgeoisie is one of the biggest exporters of capital in the world, there can be no doubt, in the light of what we have seen, that the Russian oligarchy is one of the leading imperialist oligarchies in the world.
4. Russia’s direct sphere of influence is, as we have seen, the CIS, an union of oppressed countries made up (besides the facto members Eastern Ukraine, legally a part of Ukraine, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, legally parts of Georgia) of Moldova, Belarus, Crimeea (legally a part of Ukraine), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Not a very large collection of states, we may add, but very large, humongous to be more accurate, in area covered, very large in terms of what matters more than the simple number of member states. Kazakhstan, largest of all Russian colonies, covers more than 2.7 million square-miles, that is roughly 13 times more than Romania and more than Africa’s largest state, Algeria (a country in which Russian capital too has begun to make inroads, as we may see by checking Gazprom’s website). As I’ve said before, polarization between the metropolis in terms of economic development and standard of living has already begun to take place, particularly between Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and also Moldova, with Tajikistan the poorest (with a hunger index comparable to that of Yemen, Ethiopia, Mozambique and East Timor, with remittances by citizens who work in Russia making up one third of the country’s GDP), followed by Kyrgyzstan and with Uzbekistan and Moldova somewhere in between. Even if Moldova secedes along with parts of Ukraine from the CIS and join NATO that won’t change the truly humongous proportions of the CIS empire and will give Moscow the long awaited chance to recognize the independence of Transnistria. The fact Russia has a sphere of influence much larger than the entire European Union and comparable with NATO (but actually larger than NATO if we count India and China, two huge countries with plenty of allies and colonies of their own, as allies of Russia) has begun to rankle the Putinist Pseudo-Left so badly, we may add, that they’ve even begun to resort to cheap, dirty tricks, such as a world map depicting US military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan where it has none.
5. Russian attempts to re-divide the world and grab up more than the Russian oligarchy already has have thus far been confined to the area of the CIS- the Georgian War of 2008 and the ongoing Ukrainian War started in 2014 but, considering the sheer size of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, coupled with the recent revision by Putin or the country’s nuclear doctrine makes the likelihood of new such attempts in the future quite likely, which is why it has become a must for the World Communist Movement to wake up to the old truth Lenin preached 100 years ago, that in a battle between two competing imperialist gangs there must be revolutionary defeatism in BOTH sides. People who negate the very existence of Russian imperialism by often deliberately mistaking a derived feature of imperialism, the high mean GDP per head, for a defining feature of it, are negating the very evidence and are misleading others. Such people have become the enemies of the antiimperialist cause, by being antiimperialist in one leg and proimperialist in the other they have become active enemies of Antiimperialism. But people who MITIGATE the SHEER STRENGTH of Russian imperialism in both financial (the third richest bourgeoisie in the world), military (the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, on a par with that of the United States if not larger if we count the momentarily unoperational warheads) and geopolitical (Russia’a alliance with China and India, the most populous and economically dynamic countries in the world) terms, can be every bit as harmful as the shameless negationists. A nuclear arsenal of thousands of warheads, perhaps larger than America’s if the momentarily unoperational ones are counted, is NOT something to be joked about! Contrary to what apologists of all sorts, including unconscious ones, claim, a war between Russia and the West will NOT be a war of drones and stealth fighters, on which the US admitedly spend more, but a war of NUKES and a war of nukes, again contrary to what conscious and unconscious apologists of Russian imperialism, CAN be won, otherwise the large nuclear powers of the world would not have decided to MAINTAIN such large numbers of nukes after the Cold War ended, admitedly lower than those of the Cold War but still terrifyingly large.
And finally 6.- contrary to what Putinists of all hues claim, the war in Eastern Ukraine is NOT an „Antifascist war” and Putin is NOT Antifa! A man who has Dugin as one of his top advisors CANNOT be called Antifa and has NO right to be angry about Poroshenko. Yes, Poroshenko has coopted Svoboda Nazis in the Kiev Government WITHOUT these Nazis dominating in any way the Kiev Government but didn’t Putin do the very same thing when he coopted Dugin in his Advisory Board!
Not believing that Dugin is indeed a Fascist, still believing that he is just a”benigne Russian Nationalist”? Here’s what Dugin had to say in 2002 on the question of Russians and other Nations and Nationalities inhabiting the Russian Federation and the CIS: „The party EURASIA is a national party. In it the representatives of the national movements- first of all, Russian, but also Tatar, Yakut, Tuva, Chechen, Kalmyk, Ingush and all the rest… ” (http://eurasia.com.ru/dugin0103_eng.html).
Therefore, Eurasianism is first and foremost a representative of the Russian national movement and of others only second… Kind of Pro-Fascist according to all definitions of Fascism that stress the ethnic Supremacist component…
How about this one from 2001: „We should revive the traditions of the Russian people, contribute to the recovery of Russian demographic growth. And most important, awake in the people its intrinsic organic spirituality, morale, high ideals, living and fervent patriotism. Without the prioritary revival of the Russian nation, the eurasist project has no chance to become a reality.” (http://eurasia.com.ru/eng_manifest.html)
Therefore, the Russian Nation, though the dominant nation in both the Russian Federation and the CIS, must be given PRIORITY. What would you call a French Nationalist who publicly says that the French Nation should be given priority in a state that is inhabited by people of many other ethnicities? Well, a FASCIST! Perhaps a more concealed one, but a concealed enemy can be more dangerous than an overt one, especially when we are dealing with a non-nuclear, non-imperialist country attacked by a nuclear and imperialist one.
And what about Hungarian Nazi leader Vona Gabor’s meeting with Dugin himself during his trip to Moscow in March 2014? But I think that as far as my intention to prove Russian imperialism is both a very real and a very powerful and therefore dangerous phenomenon is concerned, I think that is enough.
Down with Putinist imperialism, down with Duginist Fascism!
For a genuine Communist Movement in Russia that fights for REVOLUTION and NOT for Empire, for a genuine Russian Communist Party guided by Lenin not by Plekhanov and Plekhanovite Zyuganov!