Saturday, March 29, 1919 THE REVOLUTIONARY AGE Imperialism the Final Stage of Capitalism. Continuation)
HE rate at. which the concentration of banking concerns has taken place in Germany during the 19th and the 20th centuries is well shown by the following table made up from figures furnished by Risser: Affiliation of Sir Large Berlin Bank: Deposit and Participation in BAAIIOIICS in exchange German banking.
Germany ofices corporations Total los 16 14 42 mo 21 40 80. 91 104 276 63 450 We see how rapidly the thick network of ducts grows which gathers in all the capital of the country and ansforms thousands of scattered businessmen into one nation wide, nay world wide capitalistic concern.
What the word decentralization used by SchultzeGaevering in a preceding quotation means is the subjugation by one central concern of a growing number of formerly independent concerns, or rather of economic units whose activity used to be purely local!
It is really centralization in the proper sense of the word, which gives more power, more importance, more resources to giant monopolies.
In older capitalist nations, that network of banks is even more closely woven. In England and Ireland, in the year 1910, the number of branches established by all the banks was 7, 151. Four groups of banks had over 400 branches each, the smallest of the four groups 11minsr 447 and the largest 639 branches; four other grntii. had over 200 branches, eleven other groups had (nor 100 branches.
lii. rance, three large banks, the Credit Lyonnais, th vmptoir National Escompte and the Societe he die increased their operations and the» number of their branches as is shown in the table below: Number of branches Amount of capital and offices in millions of francs Provincial Own Outside towns Paris Total capital capital 1870 47 i7 64 200 427 1890 193 66 258 265 1, 245 r900 033 196 229 837 353 As a characteristic example of the connections of a large modern bank, Risser mentions the number of letters sent and received by the Disconto Gesell schaft, one of the largest banking concerns in Germany and in the entire world. In 914 its capital amounted to 300, 000, 000 marks. Letters received Letters sent out 1852 6, 135 6, 292 1870 85, 800 87, 513 I90 533:I02 25, 043 The number of accounts carried by one Paris Bank, the Credit Lyonnais, rose from 28, 535 in 1875 to 633. 539 in 1912. 26)
hose bare figures show more conclusively than any long dissertations that. with the concentration of capital and the increase in the bank turn over. the function of a bank becomes entirely different from what it used to be. Thousands of scattered capitalists become one single capitalist. By carrying the accounts of a number of depositors, banks seem to perform a mere technical operation. But when that operation reaches gigantic proportions, a handful of monopoly holders assumes the control of all the commercial operations of the entire capitalist world, being enabled, through its banking connections, through its current accounts and its various financial operations, first of all to ascertain exactly the condition of the various individual capitalists, and then to dominate :I. to influenCe their activity by extending to them llllli swing from them financial assistance, by givl or refusing them credit: it is able finally to (It. ir fate, to decide what their resources shall. to ease their capital at will. or to allow them to increase rapidly their capital to enormous figures.
We mentioned previously the capital of the DisNtnto Gescllschaft of Berlin which is 300. 000. 000 mans. The increase in the capital of the Disconto Ilschaft was one of the incidents in the struggle. hegemony between this bank and its rival for the place among the biggest Berlin banks, the Deutsche b; In 1870 the Disconto Gesellschaft was still a small concern with a capital of only 15, 000, 0000 marks. The Deutsche Bank had a capital of 30, 000, 000 marks. In 1908 the two banks had increased their capital respectively to 200 and 170 million marks. In 1014 the Deutsche Bank increased its capital to 250000. 000 marks. the Disconto Gesellschaft to 300. 00. 000 thanks to an alliance with another bank of first magnitude, the Schafl hnusen Bank. And that struggle for leadI By , Lenin Translated from the Russian by Andre Trldon crship does not interfere with the mutually protective agreements made by both banks.
Here are the conclusions forced by this development upon specialists in banking affairs, who in their discussion of economic problems never overstep the line of moderate bourgeois reformism. Other banks are following that example, says the German review, Bonk, discussing the increase of the capital of the Disconto Gesellschaft to 300, 000, 000 marks, and instead of the 300 men who at present direct the economic destinies of Germany there may not be more than fifty or twenty five or even less left in control. One cannot expect the present tendency to concentration to bring about only this one banking deal The close ties uniting the various banks tend to bring about closer relations between the various industrial combinations which deal with those banks. Some morning we will wake up to behold :with astonishment a few trusts and nothing else. Then we will have to transform our private monopolies into government monopolies. And in reality we shall not be to blame for anything except for letting things follow their course and somewhat speeding then up. 27)
This is an example of the mental impotence of the bourgeois press, from which bourgeois science only differs by? its greater dishonesty and by its attempts at clouding the issue. Those people are appalled at the consequences of concentration, they speak of blaming the government of capitalist Germany or capitalist society, they fear to hasten concentra tion. German expert on industrial combinations Tshirshkv, is afraid of the American trusts, and prefers to them the German cartel, because the latter does not hasten technical progress as much as trusts do. Could mental impotence gofurther?
Facts. however, remain facts. Germanv has not trusts, but she has cartels, and she is controlled by no more than 300 men and the number of those magnates is being ruthlessly cut dovm. Ceaselessly. in every capitalistic land and regardless of the various banking laws which may be passed, banks will hasten the process of financial centralization and the establishment of monopolies. As Marx wrote in Capital half a century ago: Banks establish on a social scale the form, but only the form, of a general accounting an. of a general distribution of the means of production. The data at hand on the growth of banking capital, on the increase in the number of branches and offices established by the large banks, and the number of accounts they carry, give us a concrete illustration of that general accounting of SOCIALIST PARTY BOSTON LOCAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING Sunday, March 30th, 1919 at P.
DUDLEY STREET OPERA HOUSE 113 I19 Dudley Steeet, Roxbury Important business to be discussed.
Comrades. attend. the crisis is on!
INTERNATIONAL MASS MEETING for the benefit of the LAWRENCE STRIKERS. GRAND OPERA HOUSE cor. Dover and Washington Streets, Boston Sunday, March 30, 1919, P.
There will be present a contingent of the Strikers Guard; lose a number of wounded strikers.
members of the General Strike Committee will speak in the following languages: Italian, Polish, Russian. Lithuanian.
Belgian and jewislr.
the capitalist class and not only of the capitalist class, because banks gather in for longer or shorter periods all the cash receipts of the small businessmen, clerks and skilled laborers. The general distribution of the means of production is one of the lateral activities of modern banks, three of which in France and six in Germany have at their disposal billions and billions ofmarks.
Intrinsically, however, that distribution of the means of production is not general but strictly personal, that is, in the interests of large capital, in particular of the largest and most monopolistic forms of capital, which create a condition of affairs in which the mass of the population is near the hunger line. Agriculture lags behind industry, and in the industrial field the heavy industries with their subsidiary industries carry the day.
In extending the influence of capitalist finance. savings banks and postal savings banks have begun to compete with ordinary banks, these institutions being more decentralized, in the sense that they reach more and more localities, more and more out of the way places. larger and larger sections of the population.
American reports on the relative importance of bank deposits and saving bank deposits enable us to draw up the following set of figures.
Deposits. billions of mark: England France Germany Savings Savnigs Credit Saving: Banks Banks Banks Banks Banks Assns. Banks 1880 1. 0. 0. 2. r889 r24 o 2. L! 4. 1908 23. 4. 3. 4. 7. 1. 13. Paying or 414 on their deposits, savings banks are compelled to seek profitable investments for their funds. to discount commercial paper. to buy mortgages etc. The boundary line between banks and savings banks becomes less and less visible. Chambers of commerce (for instance in Bochum and Erfurt. are trying to prevent savings banks from engaging in purely banking operations such as the discounting of, notes, and demand that the banking activities of postal savings banks be restricted. 29) Big bankers seem to fear the unexpected rise of a government monopoly of banking. But that competition does not go very far. The deposited billions in savings banks are, after all, at the disposal of the banking magnates and, on the other hand, government monopolies in capitalistic society are merely a means of increasing and insuring the incomes of certain industries which are nearing the bankrupt stage.
The change from the older Capitalism where competition reigned to the new Capitalism where monopoly is king, is characterized by the diminished importance of the exchanges. Exchanges are no longer to quote Bank, an essential means of paper conversion as they used to be years ago when banks couldn expect to market among their customers even a small part of the paper issue. Every bank is a stock exchange nowadays. This statement becomes, the more true as banks become larger and as concentration is more generally the rule in the banking field. 31. If once upon a time, in the seventies, the stock exchange, with its youthful rashness. a veiled allusion to the panic of 1873 and other scandals) opened the era of industrialization for Germany, at the present date banks and industry can fully take care of themselves.
The domination exerted upon the stock exchange by our large banks, is simply the concrete expression of the power wielded Iby the organized industries of Germany. If the action of the automatic economic laws becomes so restricted and the sphere of conscious regulation by the banks increases to that extent, there also increases to a terrific extent, the nation wide economic responsibility of a few individuals. Thus writes Schultze Gaeverning (32) a defender of German Imperialism. an authority recognized by the imperialistsof all lands, who tries to blind us to one trifling detail, that such conscious regulation by the banks simply means the exploitation of the public by a handful of well organized monopoly holders.
The duty of a bourgeois professor of political economy consists not in showing u how the system works, not in exposing all the tricks of the monopolistic bankers. but in throwing a veil over them Thus speaks also Risser, who is even more of an authority and a financial operator besides, and who tries «to escape. through a flow of empty words, from facts which cannot be gainsaid. The stock exchange is less and less the essential ogan of finance it used to be without which financial paper could not be marketed and which constituted not only a very accurate moderating device but almost automatically regulated all the economic streams flowing through it. 34. To be continued)