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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a stratum of finance capitalists not involved in business activity, whose livelihood consists of interest on monetary capital loaned by them or of income from securities (stocks arid bonds).

The rentiers, who constitute the most parasitic stratum of capitalist society, are an element of the economic structure of capitalist countries. They participate in the mobilization of capital and in the redistribution and accumulation of capital in the credit system. At the same time, their capital serves as the basis for speculation in foreign exchange, commodity, and stock markets. This type of speculation leads to the plundering and ruin of the broad masses of medium- and small-scale stockholders and to the strengthening and enrichment of the financial oligarchy, because the main profits, as V. I. Lenin observed, go to the “‘geniuses’ of financial manipulation” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5 th ed., vol. 27, p. 322).

As the accumulation of capital and the level of material wealth increase, the number of rentiers increases, making it possible for the capitalists to withdraw from the direct management of affairs. The management of enterprises is primarily the responsibility of directors, engineers, and technicians. The stratum of rentiers also grows as a result of the concentration and centralization of capital. There is an increase in the minimum funds necessary for organizing capitalist enterprises, and capitalists who do not possess this minimum become rentiers.

The largest increase in the number of rentiers is characteristic of the epoch of imperialism and is a manifestation of the parasitism and decay of capitalism. Rentier states emerge—countries in which the bourgeoisie exports a tremendous amount of capital and, to a considerable degree, lives off the interest and dividends from the exploitation of peoples of other countries. Lenin wrote: “Imperialism is an immense accumulation of money capital in a few countries…. Hence the extraordinary growth of a class, or rather, of a stratum of rentiers…. For that reason the term ‘rentier state’ (Rentnerstaat), or usurer state, is coming into common use in the economic literature that deals with imperialism. The world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states” (ibid., pp. 397–98).

At the beginning of the 20th century, France was the classic model of a rentier state. After World War II (1939–45) the USA, Great Britain, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, and certain other developed capitalist states became the principal rentier states, in terms of the scale of capital exported and the income derived from it. Taking advantage of the tremendous, chronic need of the developing countries for capital to develop and reorganize their national economies, the rentier states make their investments and loans conditional on the acceptance of political demands aimed at preserving reactionary political regimes and backward socioeconomic structures.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The rentier class-clans are pressured by the international financial institutions and local bankers to 'reform' their economies: 'open' the domestic market and public enterprises to foreign investors and reduce deficits resulting from the global crises by introducing neo-liberal reforms (Economic and Political Weekly, 2/12/11, p.
De-regulation has exacerbated massive corruption, not only among the rentier ruling class-clan, but also by their immediate business entourage.
The 'immediate causes' of the Arab revolts are centered in the huge demographic-class contradictions of the clan-class ruled rentier economy.
As a result of the social particularities of the rentier states, the uprisings do not take the form of class struggles between wage labor and industrial capitalists.
The spread of the Arab revolts across North Africa, the Middle East and Gulf States is, in the first instance, a product of similar historical and social conditions: rentier states ruled by family-clan oligarchs dependent on "rents" from capital intensive oil and energy exports, which confine the vast majority of youth to marginal informal 'street-based' economic activities.
But they did so only in countries with the same historical legacy, the same social polarities between rentier -- clan rulers and marginal street labor and especially where the rulers were deeply integrated and subordinated to imperial economic and military networks.
Rentier rulers govern via their ties to the US and EU military and financial institutions.