The MLPD, state monopoly capitalism and the question of imperialist war

The MLPD, Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany, is the only Marxist-Leninist structure to have maintained itself since the 1960s and 1970s in West Germany. It was one of the main initiators of the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR), regrouping since 2010 some fifty structures claiming to be Marxist-Leninist and, most of the time, in one way or another, uphelding Mao Zedong.

The line of the MLPD and of the ICOR is classically neo-revisionist: revisionism is denounced, but in reality it is revisionism itself which is assumed. We can see this very simply with the thesis of “state monopoly capitalism”. This thesis is revisionist. State monopoly capitalism would be a new stage of imperialism.

The state would have acquired a great level of independence from the classes, it would be “rational” and by relying on it, capitalism would reach an “organized” stage. The state, through the socialization of losses, would prevent monopoly capitalism from sinking.

Developed by Eugen Varga, this thesis was strictly rejected in the immediate post-war period in the USSR, as part of a great ideological battle. Then, Nikita Khrushchev made it an official device of the revisionist ideology. And, unfortunately, most Marxist-Leninist organizations defining themselves as anti-revisionists in Western Europe have maintained this thesis of “state monopoly capitalism”.

This is the case with the MLPD.

The MLPD does not say that the state is neutral and that it could be wrested from monopoly capital. This distinguishes it from those practicing open revisionism. However, it maintains the thesis of “state monopoly capitalism” theorized by Eugen Varga as a new stage of imperialism. Willi Dickhut, the main theorist of the MLPD since its founding in 1982 and until his death in 1992, fully assumed it in 1973 and this position is documented
by the MLPD itself in 2019.

The MLPD says exactly the same thing as Eugen Varga and this thesis was strictly rejected by the USSR at the time of Stalin, in a vast controversy. Here is how the MLPD presents it:

“In connection with the Second World War, there was a qualitative leap: in all imperialist countries the transition from monopoly capitalist imperialism to monopoly state imperialism has matured.”

This thesis is totally revisionist, historically indefensible from the communist point of view, since it was proposed by Eugen Varga, denounced by Stalin’s USSR, assumed by revisionism in the USSR and systematized in all revisionist parties in the world. The idea of a “qualitative leap” in the history of imperialism was rejected by Stalin. There has never been any talk of a new stage of imperialism.
The consequences must be understood.

Indeed, Eugen Varga’s thesis of “state monopoly capitalism” implies that the state systematically comes to the rescue of monopolies, being even only an appendage to them. The activity is therefore the same as that of the Western European revisionists of the 1960s: the regime should be “unmasked”.

The MLPD says in 2017:

“Bourgeois democracy masks that we live in Germany in a state monopoly capitalism, a dictatorship of monopolies.”

And since we are already living in a dictatorship of monopolies according to the MLPD, then the communist analysis of fascism disappears. There can no longer be any attempt by the monopolies to take control of the state by means of fascism, since the monopolies already have the power. The monopolies therefore wrest the necessary profit thanks to the “organizing” State making society pay. No more need for fascism, no more need for
imperialist war.

The thesis defended by Stalin in 1952 on the inevitability of wars for capitalism, specifically targeting Eugen Varga, is rejected.

Instead, we have the 1920s socialist thesis of so-called organized capitalism.
The MLPD fully accepts this conception and, to satisfy its formulation, has put in place several concepts: the “surmonopoly”, the “sole domination of international financial capital”, the formation of new imperialist countries, the “proletarian way of thinking”.

The MLPD says:

“The international financial capital alone dominant is a small disappearing layer of the bourgeoisie, which is formed by groupings of the international surmonopolies with different national-state bases and links.”

By “surmonopolies”, the MLPD means the 500 most powerful companies in the world. They would form an “international financial capitalism” dominating capitalism on a world scale and supported by states subject to them. Not only non-monopoly capital, but even monopoly capitalist is subject to these “surmonopolies”. And these surmonopolies have not
only merged their own organs with those of the state apparatus, they have pushed for the dismantling of the states themselves.

This is the thesis of organized capitalism theorized by social democracy in the 1920s, with ultra-imperialism forming alongside the possibility of world socialism, and modernized in the 1940s with the thesis of “State monopoly capitalism”.

To unmask this organized capitalism, it would be necessary, according to the MLPD, to have a “proletarian way of thinking”, which would make it possible to discover the real situation. But, quite logically, the only possible revolution is against these “surmonopolies” and we then arrive at the Trotskyist thesis of the unitary world revolution. The program of the MLPD is explicit:

“Under the conditions of internationalized production, the socialist revolution will take an international character. The international collaboration of the imperialists in the organization of the counter-revolution and the interaction with the international class struggle make that today it is practically impossible that an isolated revolutionary process in a country can be carried out victoriously (…).

In this world revolutionary process, there will be in indissoluble interaction mass strikes, mass demonstrations, anti-imperialist, democratic and revolutionary struggles and uprisings.

This is why the proletarian strategy and tactics in each country must essentially be understood and carried out as preparation for the international socialist revolution.”

This is Trotskyism.

And then remains a fundamental problem to explain for the MLPD: why is there still a very clear tendency to war which emerges?

An explanation was to be found. The MLPD then says the following thing: yes, war is inevitable in capitalism, because the states compete for their interests. This is not Lenin’s teaching at all.

Leninism explains that imperialism is the superstructure of national capitalism. The imperialist war is therefore carried by capitalism itself, because once developed, the monopoly fraction prevails.

It was therefore necessary for the MLPD to break this definition and broaden the concept of an imperialist country. Stefan Engel, leader of the MLPD, publicly expressed this “broader” concept in 2011.

Would be henceforth imperialist countries Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, India, Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Argentina, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iran. Added to this must be China and Russia, as well as Israel, which the MLPD already considered as imperialist.

We immediately see the paradox, since the MLPD itself explains that these 14 countries bring together 3.7 billion people, more than half of the world’s
population. If we therefore add the population of the remaining imperialist countries (United States, Western European countries, Japan), then not living in an imperialist country would only affect 35% of the world population!

Here is completely reversed the principle of uneven development and the parasitic nature of imperialism. Besides that, the MLPD does not recognize the concept of a semi-feudal semi-colonial country, speaking of “neo-colonialism”. The MLPD needs all this fiction to pretend that it has not left communist teachings. The MLPD thus denounces the war, saying that it is the result of competition between imperialists.

What the MLPD does not directly confess, however, is that according to this conception, this competition takes place in what is called the “world imperialist system”. For the MLPD, this is a kind of by-product of the world domination of the “surmonopolies”.

It is therefore the fruit of state militarism in search of territories to be controlled – we come back here to Rosa Luxembourg’s erroneous thesis that an imperialist war is based only on the principle of conquering territories to widen the accumulation of capital.

For the MLPD, there is a global, unified imperialism, and within it competition between states. This is why countries without industrial production apart from oil and gas, such as Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, can be defined as “imperialist”. As they take a part of
the global « piece of the cake », they compete with others.

All this has nothing to do with the teachings of communism and the just understanding of the uneven development of semi-feudal semi-colonial countries, recognizing that there are indeed differences between Gabon and South Korea, Chile and India. Nevertheless, a semifeudal semi-colonial country can only be transformed into expansionism and not into
imperialism, because it is itself linked to one or more imperialist countries.

Iran practices expansionism, as does Israel, but neither the one nor the other is an imperialism. This responds to the specific needs of bureaucratic capitalism in crisis, which needs to get out of it by war. But their semi-feudal and semi-colonial dimension is obvious.

The weight of religions in institutions alone shows the undemocratic dimension present, the maintenance of backward social structures, incompatible with liberated capitalism and going as far as imperialism. There is indeed a tendency towards war, but it is not imperialism in substance or else one distorts the notion of imperialism by reducing it to a bourgeois definition of « geopolitics ».

This is why, beyond a few rhetorical remarks, the MLPD does not make imperialist war one of its favorite themes. The imperialist wars is for it only a secondary aspect, specific to the internal competition of states for in a “world imperialist system”. This is an entirely revisionist analysis.