This paper in its first part briefly analyses the concept of imperialism as elaborated by Lenin in his pamphlet Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916). It also describes the historical and sociological analysis of imperialism proposed by Schumpeter in Sociology of Imperialism (1919). In the second part the paper makes a critical comparison between the two Authors about imperialism and underlines the different motive that led Lenin and Schumpeter to deal with this phenomenon. Lenin’s essay is an analysis aimed at revolutionary action; Schumpeter, on the other hand, conducts the analysis without political purposes and with a wider breadth of views. Unlike Lenin, Schumpeter does not consider imperialism an inevitable stage of capitalism. He traces the genesis of the phenomenon in historical contingencies that might not have occurred. According to Lenin, the big monopolies are the presupposition of imperialism, while according to Schumpeter there is no necessary link between capitalism and imperialism, which instead is linked to the pre-industrial era, to militarism and protectionism. Finally, the paper highlights the limitations of both Authors, made manifest by post-1945 history. Lenin underestimated the strength of national sovereign states compared to global capitalism. Schumpeter overestimated the rational ability of free capitalism to definitively end the imperialist wars.
Keywords: Imperialism, Capitalism, Nationalism, Public opinion, Pacifism.
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