“Even in the purely economic sphere,” 
writes Kestner, “a certain
change is taking place from commercial activity in the old sense of the
word towards organisational-speculative 
activity. The greatest success
no longer goes to the merchant whose technical and commercial experience
enables him best of all to estimate
 the needs of the buyer, and who is
able to discover and, so to speak, ‘awaken’ a latent demand; it goes
to the speculative genius [?!] who 
knows how to estimate, or even only
to sense in advance, the organisational development and the
possibilities of certain connections
 between individual enterprises and
the banks. . . .” 

Translated into ordinary human language
 this means that the development
of capitalism has arrived at a stage when, although commodity production
still “reigns” and continues to be 
regarded as the basis of economic
life, it has in reality been undermined and the bulk of the profits go
to the “geniuses” of financial manipulation.
 At the basis of these
manipulations and swindles lies socialised production; but the immense
progress of mankind, which achieved 
this socialisation, goes to benefit
. . . the speculators. We shall see later how “on these grounds”
reactionary, petty-bourgeois critics 
of capitalist imperialism dream of
going back to “free”, “peaceful”, and “honest” competition.

" Half a century ago, when Marx was writing
 Capital, free competition
appeared to the overwhelming majority of economists to be a “natural
law”. Official science tried, by a conspiracy 
of silence, to kill the
works of Marx, who by a theoretical and historical analysis of
capitalism had proved that free competition gives rise to the
concentration of production, which, in 
turn, at a certain stage of
development, leads to monopoly. Today, monopoly has become a fact.
Economists are writing mountains of books in which they describe the
diverse manifestations of monopoly, and continue to declare in chorus
that “Marxism is refuted”. But facts are
 stubborn things, as the
English proverb says, and they have to be reckoned with, whether we like
it or not. The facts show that 
differences between capitalist countries,
e.g., in the matter of protection or free trade, only give rise to
insignificant variations in the
 form of monopolies or in the moment of
their appearance; and that the rise of monopolies, as the result of the
concentration of production, is 
a general and fundamental law of the
present stage of development of capitalism."

"Thus, the principal stages in the 
history of monopolies are the
following: (1) 1860-70, the highest stage, the apex of development of
free competition; monopoly is in the
 barely discernible, embryonic
stage. (2) After the crisis of 1873, a lengthy period of development of
cartels; but they are still the exception. They are not yet durable.
They are still a transitory phenomenon.
 (3) The boom at the end of the
nineteenth century and the crisis of 1900-03. Cartels become one of the
foundations of the whole of economic 
life. Capitalism 

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