August 1914 to February 1917
ON the outbreak of the World War Lenin left Galicia and took up his residence in Ziirich on the neutral soil of Switzerland. He was accompanied by his colleague, Zinoviev, a brilliant orator and writer, but not his equal in political ability. From November 1914 to the beginning of 1917 Lenin and Zinoviev collaborated in editing and publishing a Russian newspaper called The Social Democrat.
Lenin was convinced that Russia's participation in the War was only the prelude to the revolution in Russia itself. Since, however, the revolution would arise out of special conditions created by the War, it was necessary for him to study carefully the War and its effects upon society at large, and then to draw the necessary conclusions. Lenin was successful in bringing his study of the War to an end within a few months of its outbreak. The result of his meditations and studies was the brilliant essay that appeared in the spring of 1915 entitled 'Imperialism as the latest stage in Capitalism'. In order that this pamphlet might evade the Russian censorship Lenin expressed himself with great caution. The reader was left to glimpse its revolutionary purport between the lines. If read in conjunction with his other writings at this period, this essay on Imperialism affords a clear insight into Lenin's opinions.
Lenin distinguished between two stages in the development of Capitalism. Early Capitalism was based upon free competition. This was replaced in the later stages by trusts, cartels, and syndicates. The production of vital necessities for entire countries, and even for an entire hemisphere, was concentrated in a single organization. Free competition had been superseded by monopolies. In early Capitalism the industrialist had been the propulsive element; now he was replaced by the great banks and financial concerns. The industrial trusts allied themselves with the great banks.