In Soviet textbooks, the concept “World War I”, traditional for world historiography, was often replaced by “imperialist war”. What exactly was meant by such a definition? This can be understood by understanding the specifics of interpreting history from the point of view of Marxism.
To understand the essence of the phenomenon of imperialist wars, you need to understand the meaning of the word "imperialism". Marxist philosophy and historiography distinguish five main stages in the development of society, otherwise called socio-economic formations: primitive communal stand, slave stand, feudalism, capitalism and communism. Each of them had the main distinguishing feature - a special method of production. In this theory, imperialism is the last stage of capitalism before the socialist revolution. The peculiarities of imperialism are the creation of large monopoly enterprises, the continuing deterioration of the position of the workers, and at the state level, territorial expansion and colonialism.
An imperialist war itself is a conflict in which one or several imperialist countries are involved. Its main goal is the seizure of territories and resources for the establishment of new colonies and extensive economic development. Marxist historiography refers to such wars, for example, the Opium Wars of the 19th century, in which the British Empire wanted to gain control over China; the Boer War, which was a reaction to the independence movement among the ranks of European settlers in the South African colonies; as well as the First World War, in which several great powers of that time clashed, and the purpose of which, again, was the redistribution of dependent territories in the world.
Modern historians for the most part question the unambiguous Marxist military conflicts at the turn of the XIX - XX centuries as imperialist. In addition to economic ones, these wars had complex social and political reasons that do not fit into the theory of a change in economic formations. Nevertheless, the comprehension of the armed conflicts of this period as a special phenomenon was first carried out by Marx, which helped the historians of the 20th century in a complex perception of the international situation in the era of imperialism.