[Intro to be added...]
“Everything in nature is analogical.” —Leibniz, quoted in Lenin, LCW 38:383. [It is not clear to me exactly what Leibniz meant by this; it could have just been a comment on how there are a great many analogies between the physical structures of different living things—for reasons that Leibniz himself did not understand. (A great many of the analogies between animals result from their common evolutionary descent, for example, which Leibniz was not aware of.) In any case, and for a great many additional reasons as well, this is a profound comment. —S.H.]
“How do we ever understand anything? Almost always, I think, by using one or another kind of analogy—that is, by representing each new thing as though it resembles something we already know. Whenever a new thing’s internal workings are too strange or complicated to deal with directly, we represent whatever parts of it we can in terms of more familiar signs. This way, we make each novelty seem similar to some more ordinary thing.” —Marvin Minsky, researcher in artificial intelligence, in his Society of Mind (1986), p. 57.
[To be added...]
See also: Philosophical doggerel about this topic.
A statement that is true by definition, or simply because of the meanings of the words in it. Thus the statement “All ducks are birds” is true (in the usual context) simply because the word ‘duck’ is defined as a certain type of bird. The opposite of an analytic statement is a synthetic statement.
The analytic/synthetic distinction (or at least this terminology) was introduced by Kant, but there are various sorts of questions and disputes that have been raised about it in academic philosophy. The logical positivists worried about proving that all knowledge which can be known a priori must be analytic. The bourgeois philosopher W.V.O. Quine claimed that we do not have sufficient criteria to be able to know whether or not the subject and object of a sentence have the same essential meaning. (This is a typical example of the sort of excessively picky quibbling that bourgeois philosophy is prone to.)
‘Anarchism’ has become such a vague and amorphous term in modern bourgeois society that these days all those who call themselves anarchists, as well as those who simply talk about anarchism, have an obligation to clarify just what they mean by it. It can mean anything from the mildest sort of totally peaceful and even explicitly pacifist social-democratic reformism to the most wild-eyed individualist bomb-throwing terrorism; and anything from total hostility toward capitalism to the deepest acceptance, support, and even glorification of laissez-faire capitalism. Here are some of the major anarchist trends:
Communist anarchism: The genuine desire to bring about a future stateless communist society, but with more or less a total rejection of the need for solid proletarian organization and a disciplined revolutionary party to lead the masses in making revolution and creating that communist society. In addition, communist anarchists generally do not see the need for a transitional period of socialism between the present capitalist society and the future communist society; and for that reason they argue that the capitalist state can virtually immediately be abolished, and that there is no need whatsoever for any dictatorship of the proletariat during the socialist transition period in order to prevent the return of capitalism.
In other words, communist anarchists are well intentioned, but rather infantile and foolish utopians. Most of them are very young and have little knowledge of history or revolutionary theory (which has been so hard won through long struggle and experience). But because they are young and their heart is in the right place, they frequently become revolutionary Marxists later on. Even Mao had some sympathy for anarchism in his youth. (For more, see the entry for ANARCHISM—Communist below.)
Reformist anarchism: Most often called just “anarchism” or names such as libertarian socialism by its adherents. This is the very mild and naïve sort of reformist anarchist politics championed by Noam Chomsky and other anti-Marxist critics of capitalism and imperialism, which in practice pretty much amounts to the same thing as social democratic reformist politics. In economics these folks usually imagine that very simple and superficial changes will suffice, such as the workers taking over the management of their corporations—but without really getting rid of the deeper capitalist relations of production. It usually envisions the permanence of commodity production and the exchange of commodities in a supposed “socialist marketplace” based on the law of value. With few exceptions, these people do not favor a future communist society, nor work toward it in any way (which is why they avoid the word communism and prefer the term socialism). Like other liberal or social-democratic trends they are even more naïve and utopian than the communist anarchists, and generally assume that the relatively small changes they seek can be achieved through peaceful mass movements focusing on electoral politics. Not only do they reject the need for violent mass revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat in a future transitional stage, they don’t even seem to really understand that they themselves are living under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie right now! (For more, see the entry for ANARCHISM—Reformist below.)
Anarcho-Syndicalism: More often known these days as just plain syndicalism. This is usually only a slight variation of the reformist anarchism described above, but with more open emphasis on what they envision as worker-controlled corporations (i.e., with elected workers making up the board of directors), operating virtually independently, usually with no state or national economic plan, and interacting through a supposed “socialist” commodity market.
Individualist Anarchism: Basically a petty-bourgeois position originating in the 19th century which upholds the total autonomy and independence of every human being and opposes virtually every social mechanism that might restrict individuals in any way. It especially opposes anything which might prevent, or even just restrict, the exploitation of others through the theft of their labor. (For more, see the entry for ANARCHISM—Individualist below.)
Anarcho-Capitalism or Libertarianism: This is a more recent version of individualist anarchism, in the context of present-day capitalist-imperialism. It is still a very deeply held set of fundamentally petty-bourgeois beliefs, even though its thrust these days is primarily as an ideological support for capitalism in general. The big bourgeoisie itself, in this capitalist-imperialist era, understands very well that the state is its instrument and by no means wants to “get rid of it!” But the bourgeoisie also understands that arguments against “big government” are nevertheless useful to it in order to weaken or even eliminate social programs such as welfare, unemployment insurance, Social Security and even public education, all for the purpose of taking out their growing economic crisis on the backs of the proletariat and masses. (For more, see the entry below for ANARCHISM—Anarcho-Capitalist or Libertarian, and LIBERTARIANISM.)
Everyone who calls themselves an anarchist is against one or another form of the state, but despite what might be thought, they are not necessarily totally against there being a state at all. The reformist anarchists want a state, but not one that protects and promotes capitalists, and also not one that owns and manages the means of production during a socialist transition period or which forcibly prevents the return of the capitalists to power during that vulnerable period. The individualist anarchists and the libertarians also are not truly against the state; they are merely against the state “interfering” with the capitalists in any way in their exploitation of the working class. But virtually all the so-called anarchists who support capitalism, especially in the capitalist-imperialist era, recognize very well that they need and depend on the existence of the state to protect private property in the means of production, to protect the “sanctity” of contracts through a court system, and to safeguard their continuing “right” to exploit workers. It is therefore a myth that everyone who calls themselves an anarchist is against the existence of the state.
See also the more specific entries below, and: CONSENSUS
ANARCHISM — Communist
[For introductory comments, see the above general entry on anarchism.] [To be added...]
See also: BAKUNIN, KROPOTKIN
ANARCHISM — Reformist
[For introductory comments, see the above general entry on anarchism.] [To be added...]
See also: CHOMSKY, Noam
ANARCHISM — Individualist
[For introductory comments, see the above general entry on anarchism.] [To be added...]
See also: STIRNER, Max
ANARCHISM — Anarcho-Capitalist or Libertarian
[For introductory comments, see the above general entry on anarchism.] The term ‘anarcho-capitalism’ was coined by the primary theorist of this small, rather fanatical trend, Murry Rothbard. His best known book is Ethics of Liberty (1982), and as the title of that book might suggest, he and his followers identify “liberty” with the absolutely unfettered “right” of capitalists to exploit labor. Rothbard himself was such an extemist in his views that he opposed government of any kind whatsoever, and thought that even police forces and fire departments should be “private”. He was one of the few petty-bourgeois, pro-capitalist anarchists who really was an anarchist properly speaking—that is, someone who is totally opposed to any state. Of course the sort of “utopian” capitalist society Rothbard championed, without any state power to protect it, is an absurd impossibity.
However, the vast bulk of people who call themselves libertarians are not true anarchists of the Rothbard sort. They claim to be hostile to any state intervention in the capitalist economy whatsoever, even intervention which promotes the interests of capitalists (such as bailouts of failing corportions or even having a central bank to try to stabilize interest rates, etc.). However, they do support the need for police and military forces to protect private property and to prevent social revolution by the working class. They also support a judicial system (backed up by the police force) to insure the “sanctity” of capitalist contracts. And while many of them are uneasy about foreign military wars and adventures (which typify capitalism in the modern imperialist era), libertarians do support having a military “for the protection of the country”.
All this brings out how libertarians are of necessity a very small trend quite out of the bourgeois mainstream. They are a petty-bourgeois trend which does not at all recognize the absolute necessity of the capitalist-imperialist ruling class today to have a huge and powerful state apparatus to defend its interests both at home and internationally. And libertarians do not understand that the capitalist economy itself now requires a partial merger with the state to survive at all. Libertarians are so simple minded that they actually believe that the old laissez-faire dogmas are true.
See also: AUSTRIAN SCHOOL [Economics], LIBERTARIANISM
ANARCHISM — Lenin On
See also: COMMUNIST WORKERS’ PARTY OF GERMANY (Lenin quote)
“The philosophy of the anarchists is bourgeois philosophy turned inside out. Their individualistic theories and their individualistic ideal are the very opposite of socialism. Their views express, not the future of bourgeois society, which is striding with irresistible force towards the socialization of labor, but the present and even the past of that society, the domination of blind chance over the scattered and isolated small producer. Their tactics, which amount to a repudiation of the political struggle, disunite the proletarians and convert them in fact into passive participators in one bourgeois policy or another, since it is impossible and unrealizable for the workers really to dissociate themselves from politics.” —Lenin, “Socialism and Anarchism” (Nov. 24 [Dec. 7], 1905), LCW 10:73.
“Basic propositions and aims are two different things; even the
anarchists will agree with us about aims, because they too stand for the abolition
of exploitation and class distinctions.
“I have met and talked with few anarchists in my life, but all the same I have seen enough of them. I sometimes succeeded in reaching agreement with them about aims, but never as regards principles. Principles are not an aim, a programme, a tactic or a theory. Tactics and theory are not principles. How do we differ from the anarchists on principles? The principles of communism consist in the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and in the use of state coercion in the transition period. Such are the principles of communism, but they are not its aim.” —Lenin, “Speech in Defense of the Tactics of the Communist International” (at the 3rd Congress of the Communist International, on July 1, 1921). LCW 32:469.
ANARCHY OF PRODUCTION (Under Capitalism)
“[A]narchy, which is irreconcilable with the socialization of labor, is an inherent feature of capitalist society.” —Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People’ are” (1894), LCW 1:177.
ANARCHY OF PRODUCTION THEORY (For Capitalist Economic Crises)
[To be added... ]
ANARCHY — Within the Mass Movement
“Resolutely overcome lack of discipline or even, in many places,
“Anarchy is detrimental to the interests of the people and against their wishes.” —Mao, March 1, 1968; SW 9:423.
ANAXIMANDER OF MILETUS (c. 610-c. 546 BCE)
An early Greek materialist philosopher of the Ionian School, a pupil of Thales, and the first philosopher whose views are known to any significant degree. Like Thales and other members of the Ionian School, he was also in effect an early scientist. He constructed the first geometrical model of the universe, and made maps of both the earth and the skies. His cosmological theory consisted of the earth, which he thought had the shape of a flattened cylinder, at the center of the Universe, with three rings (solar, lunar and astral) surrounding the earth. He invented the gnomon (or upright pointer) on sundials, which gave them greater accuracy in keeping time. Anaximander also originated the concept of biological evolution. He thought that human beings, like other animals, had evolved from fish. (This idea probably arose from examining the fish-like appearance of spontaneously aborted early fetuses. See: “ONTOGENY RECAPITULATES PHYLOGENY”)
Anaximander was the author of the first written work of philosophy in ancient Greece, On Nature, which—unfortunately—has not been preserved. He was a natural dialectician. He introduced the concept of arché, or the “primary principle”, or the underlying impetus of all things, which however does not seem to be any sort of reference to a god or gods. And these “all things” themselves (or at least their original state) he called the apeiron, or the boundless, indefinite, never-ending, multiplicity of our surroundings which are in constant motion. This is perhaps the first attempt to refer to what materialists later came to call “matter in motion”. And Anaximander thought that out of the apeiron, all worlds, and all the objects in them, have been produced through a dialectical struggle of opposites.
ANAXIMENES OF MILETUS (c. 588-525 BCE)
Greek materialist philosopher and natural dialectician of the Ionian School who was a student of Anaximander (see above). He gave Anaximander’s conception of apeiron (original matter in motion) a more concrete form, by arguing that everything develops from the primary matter air, forming first clouds, then water, and finally earth and rock. Unfortunately, in this case this more definite form of the theory was a step backwards, similar to returning to Thales’s naïve idea that everything is composed of water. However, Anaximenes did seem to understand and utilize the general dialectical principle of the transition of quantity into quality.
[In contemporary academic feminist theory:] “Male centeredness”; taking “male values” or practices as the norm, and then explaining “female values” or practices as deviations or aberations from the norm. This criticism, which is obviously valid to some extent, thus focuses on certain psychological aspects of the larger problem of male chauvinism and the oppression of women in contemporary bourgeois society.
However, as formulated in this way the notion begs some important questions. What, for example, are “male values” or “female values”? If these are specific negative or positive attributes for human beings in general, then why not talk about them as such, rather than acquiescing in them as properly viewed as “male” or “female” values or attributes in the first place? Insofar as theorists fail to do this they may, ironically, be unconsciously adopting sexist attitudes themselves.
ANDROID THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
Marx supposed that only the labor of human beings is capable of producing surplus value in a system of capitalist production. The android thought experiment, which occurred to me some decades ago, is a way of seeing that it is at least conceivable that Marx is wrong on this point.
The thought experiment starts by assuming that there is nothing mystical about human beings or their labor that allows them alone to create new value, but instead that it might just be because there is some special exclusive characteristic, or set of characteristics, of human beings that allows their labor alone to produce surplus value in capitalist production. Such a characteristic might be intelligence, ingenuity, creativity, or some such thing. (Marx himself implies at one place in Capital that the essential thing which distinguishes human labor from the industrious activity of other animals is our sense of conscious purpose.) But the thought experiment then supposes that some non-human entity might someday be created, such as an artificial “man” or android, which has that same characteristic (or set of characteristics). In short, an artificial human—if it truly replicates the relevant essential characteristics of a human being—should also be capable of generating surplus value in capitalist production. This is the foot in the door.
The next stage in the argument is to recognize that all characteristics of human beings come in degrees. Intelligence or creativity, for example, are not absolutely uniform characteristics of every human being. Some people are more creative than others. We do not say that a somewhat less intelligent or somewhat less creative human being is unable to produce surplus value in at least many forms of labor under capitalism. In the same way, we are forced to admit that an android might be able to create surplus value even if it were somewhat less intelligent or creative than the average human being. Further considerations along these lines leads us step-by-step to recognize that any “special characteristic” that might allow human labor to generate surplus value must be part of a continuum, only gradually rising from zero to the full abilities of the most capable human being (and then conceivably way beyond!). Finally, in this age of ever growing computer sophistication and artificial intelligence research, we have to at least consider the possibility that computer-controlled robots might someday possess enough of this hypothesized special characteristic (whatever that may be) that they too would have to be viewed as generating surplus value.
However, the main persuasiveness of this thought experiment does not depend on any belief that androids will ever actually be constructed! It just shows what we would have to say if they ever are constructed. It is a thought experiment, and not a prediction about robots and artificial intelligence. But it already shows that Marx’s insistence that only human labor alone can create surplus value is at least subject to serious doubt.
The android thought experiment then leads to the further idea that maybe there is no such “special exclusive characteristic” that human labor has which allows it alone to create surplus value. Moreover, more theoretical considerations suggest that it may be necessary to somewhat revise the labor theory of value from the precise form that Marx gave it. See LABOR THEORY OF VALUE—Revised Form —S.H.
See also: “Steve Keen on Marxist Economics, Together with a Mini Essay on the Labor Theory of Value” (especially sections 3-10) at http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/Keen_LTV.htm, and “Letter to Frank S. about the Labor Theory of Value” at http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/Keen_LTV.htm
The official news publication of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Its name means “The People” in English.
“Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of
the Philippines issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of
the Party as well as its analysis of and standpoint on current issues.
“AB comes out fortnightly. It is published originally in Pilipino and translated into Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.” —Statement on the web page for Ang Bayan as of Oct. 21, 2010. [Issues of Ang Bayan can be obtained online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/Philippines/CPP/index.htm and not quite as many at: http://philippinerevolution.net/publications/ang_bayan]
A variety of primitive religious views that various aspects of the inanimate material world (such as rivers, mountains, stars, as well as plants) are actually imbued with souls or spirits.
Curiously, more modern philosophically idealist views such as panpsychism and vitalism, which are really not any more sophisticated, are not recognized to be akin to animism.
A series of equal payments as part of a retirement plan or an insurance policy payout (such as to someone who has a long-term disability insurance policy and becomes unable to work). The payments may continue for a fixed period, or on a contingent basis (such as until the beneficiary dies). (The payment of interest to the holder of bonds may amount to the same sort of thing but is seldom described as an annuity.)
ANSHAN IRON AND STEEL COMPANY
The Anshan Iron and Steel Works was constructed in the period of Japanese rule in Manchuria, and was China’s first large modern industrial enterprise and the center of its heavy industry. After the 1949 Revolution, it was the focus of industrialization during the first five-year plan, and by 1960 it was an advanced complex with more than 100,000 workers supplying 25 percent of the nation’s steel, the foundation of the industrial economy. The Charter of the Anshan Steel Company was proposed by the workers of Anshan in 1960. Mao strongly approved of this Charter and wrote a famous note with regard to it which guided industrial work in general during the Maoist period.
See also: CHARTER OF THE ANSHAN IRON AND STEEL COMPANY
[In Marxist usage:] Open hostility and conflict; complete irreconcilability not only in how a struggle is finally resolved but also in how it is carried out.
The struggle between the two opposing poles (or aspects) of a dialectical contradiction may take quite different forms. The struggle may be gentle or ferocious, peaceful or violent, slow and drawn out or immediate and all-out. In human affairs such struggle may involve reason, discussion, temporary concessions, etc., or it may involve unrestrained force, violence, and immediate unrestrained action. In other words, the form that the struggle between the two poles of the contradiction takes may be non-antagonistic or antagonistic. Moreover, in some cases the form of the struggle may change from being antagonistic to being non-antagonistic, or vice versa.
“Contradiction and struggle are universal and absolute, but the methods
of resolving contradictions, that is, the forms of struggle, differ according to the
differences in the nature of the contradictions. Some contradictions are characterized
by open antagonism, others are not. In accordance with the concrete development of things,
some contradictions which were originally non-antagonistic develop into antagonistic ones,
while others which were originally antagonistic develop into non-antagonistic ones....
“Lenin said, ‘Antagonism and contradiction are not at all one and the same. Under socialism, the first will disappear, the second will remain.’ That is to say, antagonism is one form, but not the only form, of the struggle of opposites; the formula of antagonism cannot be arbitrarily applied everywhere.” —Mao, “On Contradiction” (Aug. 1937), SW 1:344-5.
For more discussion of this topic see section VI of Mao’s essay On Contradiction,
entitled “The Place of Antagonism in Contradiction”, from which the above quotation is taken,
and these more specialized essays:
“Antagonistic and Non-Antagonistic
Contradictions”, by Ai Siqi (1957), in which he discusses the concept of antagonistic and
non-antagonistic contradictions as expounded in several works by Mao. [PDF format: 107 KB];
“An Attempt to Discuss ‘Antagonism’
and ‘Antagonistic Contradictions’”, by Shan Hong (1957) [PDF format: 108 KB].
See also: CONTRADICTIONS—Dialectical
The idealist notion that people can draw valid conclusions about the laws of physics and the universe based on the fact that we humans exist and are here to come to such conclusions.
A reactionary political position, point of view, or piece of propaganda opposing communism, revolution, and often also opposing most other ideas or measures which significantly promote the interests of the working class or masses as a whole. Communism is often portrayed as the most horribly evil system, and communists are routinely portrayed as vicious man-eating monsters and the like!
See also: TO BE ATTACKED BY THE ENEMY IS A GOOD THING
This famous book by Frederick Engels, published in 1878, was directed against a crude petty-bourgeois theory of socialism put forth by Eugen Dühring. The formal title of Engels’ book is Herrn Eugen Dührings Umwälzung der Wissenschaft (Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science). Engels did such an excellent job of exposing Dühring and at the same time putting forward the essentials of his and Marx’s much more coherent and profound theory of scientific socialism, that Anti-Dühring has ever since its publication been considered an essential textbook of Marxism.
[This book analyzes] “highly important problems in the domain of philosophy, natural science and the social sciences. This is a wonderfully rich and instructive book.” —Lenin, “Frederick Engels” (1896), LCW 2:25.
See also: HISTORICISM
“Nothing is more characteristic of the bourgeois than the application of the features of the modern system to all times and peoples.” —Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are” (1894), LCW 1:154 (footnote).
ANTI-IMMIGRANT ATTITUDES WITHIN THE UNITED STATES — History Of
Traditionally the United States has liked to think of itself as a “melting pot” where peoples from all over the world may come to make a better life for themselves. And it is true that the U.S. is overwhelmingly a nation of immigrants and their descendants. However, practically from the beginning of European colonization in what later became the United States there have also been hostile attitudes towards newer immigrants, especially if they were from countries other than England, or if they were poor, or if they spoke languages other than English, and if their perceived “race” was other than “Caucasian”. An example of this is the following diatribe by a person who is often considered very open-minded and progressive, none other than Benjamin Franklin:
“Why should [German immigrants] be suffered to swarm into our Settlements,
and by herding together to establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours?
Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly
be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our
Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.
“The Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia, chiefly tawny. ... And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians, and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are [most of] the Germans. ... Why should we ... darken [America’s] people? Why increase the Sons of Africa by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by exluding all Blacks and Tawnys, of increasing the lovely White and Red?”
—Ben Franklin, from an essay in 1751. Quoted by Jim Hightower in his monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, Aug. 2016, p. 2. [Interestingly, Franklin didn’t consider that Native Americans (the “Red” people he also admired) might with some better reason at the time have also wished to block any further immigration from England as well! —Ed.]
See also: CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT OF 1882
ANTI-LIN BIAO, ANTI-CONFUCIUS CAMPAIGN
A mass campaign in Maoist China launched in late 1973 and promoting criticism of both the disgraced Lin Biao and Confucius. Lin Biao died in 1971 in a plane crash in Mongolia while attempting to flee China after his plot to assassinate Mao had been exposed. Mao and the CCP recognized that Lin’s betrayal was connected to some deeper lingering problems in the ideology of people left over from the old China, and therefore appropriately attempted to criticize not just Lin, but the broader ideological problem that still remained.
To some considerable extent this Anti-Lin, Anti-Confucius campaign seems to have also been directed at Zhou Enlai, who appeared more and more to be trying to reverse at least aspects of the Cultural Revolution, such as by rehabilitating Deng Xiaoping and making him his chief deputy Premier.
This campaign is sometimes considered to be one of the later phases of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and sometimes considered to be a separate mass campaign.
[Often without the hyphen:] An uncommon type of matter composed of “anti-particles” (such as anti-protons and “anti-electrons”, or positrons) which when brought together with ordinary matter leads to mutual annihilation and the release of enormous quantities of energy in accordance with Einstein’s equation: E = mc2
Some forms of anti-matter differ from ordinary matter in the electrical charge carried. Thus while ordinary protons carry a positive charge, anti-protons carry a negative charge. More fundamentally, the difference between ordinary particles and anti-particles lies in their internal characteristics or constituents. Thus ordinary neutrons and anti-neutrons are both electrically neutral, but consist internally of either quarks or anti-quarks which can still annihilate each other when brought together.
The term “matter” in physics can in one sense refer only to ordinary matter, and in a more inclusive sense can refer to both ordinary matter and anti-matter. Both particles of matter and anti-matter have mass and generally have the same intrinisic properties as their anti-particle forms.
The even more abstract conception of matter in the materialist philosophical sense includes both ordinary matter and anti-matter, and also energy in all its forms.
See also: STANDARD MODEL (of Particle Physics)
ANTI-SOCIALIST LAW (In 19th Century Germany)
“The Anti-Socialist Law was introduced in Germany in 1878 by the Bismarck government with the object of combating the labor and socialist movement. The law banned all Social-Democratic Party and mass working-class organizations, and the labor press; socialist literature was confiscated, and Social-Democrats were hounded and deported. These repressions, however, did not break the Social-Democratic Party, which readjusted its activities to the conditions of illegal existence: the Party’s central organ Sozial-Demokrat was published abroad and Party congresses were held regularly there (1880, 1883, and 1887); in Germany, Social-Democratic underground organizations and groups headed by an illegal Central Committee were rapidly restored. Simultaneously, the Party made wide use of legal opportunities to strengthen contact with the masses, and its influence steadily grew. The number of votes cast for the Social-Democrats in the Reichstag elections increased more than threefold between 1878 and 1890. Tremendous assistance to the German Social-Democrats was given by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Anti-Socialist Law was repealed in 1890 as a result of pressure from the mounting mass labor movement.” —Note 209, LCW 20:611-612.
Laws nominally for the purpose of preventing or restricting the growth of capitalist monopolies, trusts, cartels and oligopolies. Marx discussed the strong tendency toward the development of monopolies as weak firms fail or are bought out, especially during recessions or depressions. Bourgeois economists and politicians have been forced to acknowledge this trend as well, and also its economic harmfulness, usually after it has already become well advanced. Even some early economists such as Adam Smith considered monopolies, price agreements, and the like to be “conspiracies against the public”.
In 1890 the U.S. Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in response to public alarm about the growth of giant capitalist combines. While there were a few famous breakups of monopolies, “the primary effect of the Sherman Act over the next few decades was to weaken labor unions” [E. K. Hunt & Howard Sherman, Economics: An Introduction to Traditional and Radical Views, 1981, p. 118.] However, in 1914 the Clayton Act was passed to give the anti-trust laws a few more teeth, and to exempt labor unions.
The most famous anti-trust case was the breakup of the Rockefeller Standard Oil Trust in 1911 into 34 separate companies. But this was more a matter of the short-term, and for public image purposes. Even soon after the breakup these companies still colluded and engaged in price fixing, and the like. Many of the 34 companies were rather small and not central to the matter of industry price fixing, and this made it easier for the few big ones to collude, not only with each other, but also with the small number of other big oil companies around the world. For example, “In 1928 the heads of British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, and Standard Oil met in the Scottish highlands and secretly agreed to limit production in the wake of the huge discoveries in the Middle East.” [U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 14, 1998, pp. 26-27.]
More to the central point, there are today, after more than a century of supposed anti-trust regulation, a very small number of super-giant oil companies that completely dominate that industry worldwide. In the 1998-2001 period there was a further consolidation: Exxon merged with Mobil, Chevron with Texaco, BP with Amoco, Arco with both Conoco and Phillips, and in Europe, Total merged with PetroFina and Elf.
Even bourgeois economists recognize that anti-trust legislation has been largely ineffective. In 1949 there was a symposium on the topic in the American Economic Review, and every participant agreed that anti-trust legislation was a dismal failure. However, the situation is actually far worse than what these economists admit. Far from being an opponent of monopoly (though an “ineffective” one), governments in the imperialist era actually promote monopoly. The “anti-trust” legislation on the books is at most a false cover for this real stance. As the radical economists E.K. Hunt & Howard Sherman summed it up, “the enforcement of antitrust laws and the actions of the numerous government regulatory commissions have consistently aided and abetted the achievement and maintenance of monopoly power”. [Op. cit., pp. 329-330.]
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