Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- BA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ba-Bd.
- BE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Be-Bh.
- BI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Bi-Bk.
- BL.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Bl-Bn.
- BO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Bo-Bq.
- BR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Br-Bt.
- BU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Bu-Bz.
Although this older “B.htm” file still exists (in case there are still links to its contents),
all new entries and revisions to old entries are being made to the above files.
BABEUF, François Noël (Later known as Gracchus Babeuf) (1760-97)
Probably the first revolutionary communist in history! Babeuf was a prominent revolutionary activist in the great French Revolution of 1789. He advocated and worked for not only political equality but also economic equality. When the Jacobin faction was defeated in 1794 and there was a major shift to the right, Babeuf recognized that the full set of ideals of the Revolution had been betrayed. He took the name Gracchus from two ancient Roman brothers who championed the rights of the poor. He formed a secret revolutionary society, which later became known as the Conspiracy of Equals, and was planning an uprising against the government to take place in May 1796. But the plan was was betrayed and Babeuf was arrested and executed. The word ‘communism’ was coined by the utopian socialist Goodwyn Barmby after a conversation with those he described as the “disciples of Babeuf”.
BACON, Francis (1561-1626)
One of the most prominent early promoters and theorists of the experimental scientific method. His works The Advancement of Learning (1605) and the Novum Organum (1620) were highly influential in the development of science.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about Bacon.
1. [In general:] Failing to answer to (or satisfy) certain interests (which interests and whose interests are implied by the context).
2. [In moral discourse in class society:] Failing to answer to the common collective interests of a particular class (which class being determined by the ideology of the speaker).
3. [In classless society:] Failing to answer to the common, collective interests of the people as a whole.
See also: GOOD
BADIOU, Alain (1937- )
A very confused and grossly overrated French petty-bourgeois political radical and idealist (non-materialist) philosopher of sorts, who once considered himself to be a “Maoist”, and still likes to associate himself with what some of his admirers call “post-Maoism”.
Badiou was strongly influenced by, and somewhat further radicalized by, the great student uprising in France in the spring of 1968. In 1970 he was the founder and leader of the Groupe pour la Fondation de l’Union des Communistes de France Marxistes Léninistes, more commonly called the UCFML [Union of Communists of France Marxist-Leninist], one of several nominally Maoist organizations in France in that period. He is now a member of L’Organisation Politique which he and some friends founded in 1985 after the dissolution of the UCFML. This group supports immigrant rights and other reforms. However, Badiou no longer believes that there needs to be, or should be, a revolutionary political party in order to transform society!
“Up to the end of the 1970s, my friends and I defended the idea that an emancipatory politics presumed some kind of political party. Today we are developing a completely different idea, which we call ‘politics without party’.” —Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. by Peter Hallward, (Verso, 2001), p. 95. (In the interview appendix.)
Even more absurdly, Badiou now explicitly renounces the class perspective in politics and ideology, and refuses to even think in terms of the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie!
“The second thing that has changed over these last twenty years concerns the status of class. For a long time we were faithful to the idea of a class politics, a class state, and so on. Today we think that political initiatives which present themselves as representations of a class have given everything they had to give.” —Alain Badiou, ibid., p. 97.
Badiou’s philosophical views are strongly influenced by Kant,
Althusser’s corruption of Marxism and by Lacanian psychoanalysis, along with mathematical set
theory. (What a mish-mash!) Badiou is sometimes called an adherent of the “anti-postmodern”
strand of continental philosophy. However, for the most part his philosophical ideas are nearly
impossible to describe in any intelligeable fashion, since they are almost completely incoherent.
But whatever his philosophical views are, exactly, it is clear that he is not a materialist. One
commentator argues that Badiou’s philosophy can be regarded as a contemporary reinterpretation
Badiou’s views on ethics are a blend of Kant, classless nihilism, and his usual general incoherence. [See my commentary: “Alain Badiou: A Pseudo-Maoist Obscurantist”, at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/BadiouAndEthics.pdf. —S.H.]
Oddly enough, for a person who is obviously not a Marxist nor even a real revolutionary, Badiou and his views have recently become something of a fad within radical movements led by intellectuals, not only in North America, but also in desperately poor and exploited countries like India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa! Even some revolutionary Marxists have been attracted to him, though it only serves to discredit their own good judgment! Just how much in politics and philosophy can we possibly have to learn from someone who rejects the class perspective, rejects the need for a revolutionary party (and apparently also for any actual revolution), and who derives his own ideas mostly from either bourgeois ideologists directly, or else from revisionist distorters of Marxism?!
See also: “Badiou, St. Paul, and the Mass Line” at: http://www.massline.info/Misc/BadiouMassLine.pdf
See: GOVERNMENT BAILOUT
BAKUNIN, Mikhail (1814-76)
Russian anarchist and determined opponent of Marx. He was born near Moscow of aristocratic descent. He took part in the German revolutionary movement of 1848-49 and was condemned to death. In 1855 he was sent to Siberia, but escaped to Japan and then came to England in 1861. In September 1870 he led an abortive uprising in Lyon.
Bakunin was the most prominent anarchist of his day and the leader of the anarchist opposition to Marxism within the First International. At the Hague Congress of the International in 1872 he was outvoted and expelled. But he and his followers had done major damage to that organization, and it disbanded a few years later.
“Followers of Mikhail Bakunin, an anarchist theoretician and implacable enemy of Marxism and scientific socialism. The Bakuninists conducted a stubborn struggle against Marxist theory and the Marxist tactics of the working-class movement. The basic postulate of Bakuninism was the rejection of all forms of [the] state, including that of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Bakuninists did not understand the historic role of the proletariat. Bakunin propounded the idea of class ‘levelling’, the alliance of ‘free associations’ from below. A secret revolutionary society consisting of ‘outstanding people’ would lead popular revolts that were to begin immediately. In Russia, for example, the Bakuninists assumed that the peasantry were ready to start an immediate revolt. Their tactics of conspiracy, immediate revolts and terrorist acts was sheer gambling and was contrary to the Marxist theory of insurrection. Bakuninism was one of the sources from which the Narodniks drew their ideology.” —Note 9 in Lenin, Selected Works, vol. I (Moscow: 1967).
For further information about Bakunin and his followers see: Marx & Engels, “The Alliance of Socialist Democracy and the Working Men’s International Association” (1873); Engels, “The Bakuninists at Work” (1873); Engels, “Emigré Literature” (1875); and Lenin, “On the Provisional Revolutionary Government” (LCW 8:461-81).
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS [International Economics]
1. An overall statement of the financial inflows and outflows for a given country during a given period (such as over one calendar year). There are three components to such an overall balance of payment statement:
The current account balance includes the value of imports and exports as well as receipts from or spending abroad in other ways, such as through tourism or workers in foreign countries sending money back home. It also includes receipts from foreign property income.
The capital account balance includes foreign direct investment, sales and purchases of foreign securities (such as stocks and bonds), and sales or purchases of domestic securities by foreigners.
The third component is any change in the foreign exchange reserves held by the government of that country.
2. The difference between the total inflow (receipts) or outflow (expenditures) in one of the above categories; i.e., either a net surplus or net deficit.
Changes in foreign exchange reserves are equal to the sum of the current and capital account surpluses or deficits for that period. Thus if there are deficits in the current account or the capital account, the foreign exchange reserves are depleted by that same amount. If the current account and capital account added together are in serious deficit, then the country has a “balance of payments problem”—in that if the trend continues it will run out of foreign reserves and be unable to buy anything more from foreign countries. A “balance of payments crisis” is a problem that has become so severe that immediate action must to taken to change the situation, such as by obtaining an emergency loan from the IMF or from another government, or by devaluing its currency.
A social group, typically consisting of 25 to 50 people. This is the level of social organization characteristic of primitive communal society. Each band is self-reliant and operates separately and independently from other bands, even those speaking the same language and sharing the same culture. See the entry for primitive social organization for a comparison with other levels of social organization such as tribes, chiefdoms and nation-states.
[From the Hindi word meaning “closed”.] A term for what is usually a one-day general strike in India and other countries in south Asia. Bandhs are generally called either by major political parties, or at least usually represent major concerns of a large section of the population. They tend to be very effective, with shops being closed, transportion nearly completely closed down, the streets empty, and so forth. While observance of bandhs is generally voluntary, sometimes force is used against those who ignore them. It often happens that governments order the population to ignore bandhs, but people seldom pay much attention to this. Bandhs have been illegal in India itself since 1998, but they are still common. Sometimes even large cities are brought to almost a complete standstill. Bandhs are most frequent in cities where there are the largest numbers of poor and harshly oppressed people. In the Indian state of West Bengal there are as many as 50 bandhs each year. Bandhs are a very powerful form of mass protest, but they are not the same as labor strikes or “hartals”, which can go on for much longer periods. However, where bandhs are illegal they sometimes still occur under the name of hartals.
The first conference of the “non-aligned” Afro-Asian countries which occurred in Bandung, Indonesia from April 18-24, 1955. The countries attending, including the People’s Republic of China, were “non-aligned” in the sense that they were not in the camp of either superpower, the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. The countries at the Bandung Conference did not want to be caught up in the constant contention between the two superpowers, and were opposed to the domination of either imperialist superpower. Moreover, they were concerned about the possibility of superpower attacks on other countries, and especially the danger of a U.S. attack on China, which was quite serious at that time.
[More to be added...]
A financial institution whose primary activity is the borrowing and lending of money. Banks borrow from the general public, both individuals and businesses, who become depositors in the bank. The banks normally pay only a rather low rate of interest to borrow this money. (Checking accounts usually pay no interest at all.) They then loan out money to others at a higher rate of interest, which is usually the main source of their profits. These loans are to businesses and also to individual people (for mortgages, car loans, and other purposes). To the extent that the bank interest income from loans comes from capitalist companies, the banks share in the surplus value generated by the workers at those companies. The banks centralize idle cash, not only from capitalist corporations but also a great many smaller deposits from workers and other non-capitalists, and serve the necessary capitalist function of accumulating and turning many isolated quantitities of idle money into large chunks of money capital available to companies to use in continuing and expanding production.
Commercial banks may be either general purpose or focus their activity mostly on certain areas of banking, such as savings banks (or “savings & loans” institutions) which specialize in gathering the savings of many small depositors and in issuing mortgages. Merchant banks specialize in servicing financial needs of businesses and promoting trade, including international trade. Investment banks specialize in handling transactions of large corporations and the rich, including loaning them large sums of money, handling their investments for them, helping arrange mergers and acquisitions of other companies, arranging for IPOs and so forth.
Central banks are government banks whose primary purposes are to supervise the commercial banks, regulate the money supply, and to try to keep the overall economy running smoothly. They do not accept deposits from individuals. The U.S. central bank is the Federal Reserve. Others include the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan. The European Central Bank regulates the monetary policy of those countries using the Euro currency.
Finally, there are a few international banks (meaning not those commercial banks which operate internationally, but rather banks set up by associations of many nations which try to regulate the world financial system). Most notably there is the International Monetary Fund, which is a crude sort of world central bank, and the World Bank, which is a world investment bank that in theory, at least, tries to promote economic development in more economically backward (i.e., more exploited!) nations. Both of these are tightly controlled by the imperialist powers, especially the United States.
See also entries below and: MONEY CREATION BY COMMERCIAL BANKS, ZOMBIE BANK
There are two main senses of this term: 1) the capital supplied by those who established the bank and the capital required to keep it functioning (either from actual business requirements or from legal requirements); and 2) all the capital concentrated in the bank, including both that supplied by the owners of the bank, and the much larger amount supplied by the depositors in the bank. In the writings of Marx and other Marxists, bank capital is most often used in this second sense, while in the discussions by bourgeois economists about banks, the term is most often used in the first sense.
In the first sense, bank capital is the capital required to establish and keep operating a bank. Banks make their profits through borrowing money from depositors and lending it out at a higher rate of interest to their loan customers. However, at times depositors also wish to withdraw their money and banks must have some money capital on hand to pay them back. The amount required varies from time to time, but the banks must have enough money on hand to deal with all normal situations. (During exceptional situations, such as a financial crisis, the bank may borrow temporarily from the central bank—the Federal Reserve in the U.S.—to tide it over.)
In the second sense, the basic function of bank capital is as a source of new capital for the active capitalists in industry to expand production and thus to further increase the extraction of surplus value from the working class. This aggregation and centralization of idle money and its transformation into new capital is an essential process under capitalism.
See also: FINANCIAL CAPITAL
The bankruptcy of a bank and either its dismantlement or its forced merger with another bank. There are some bank failures every year, even during booms, but during severe capitalist crises there are vastly more failures. In the U.S. the recent numbers of bank failures have been:
2011: 61 (Through 7/29/11.)
These figures show that the claim by bourgeois economists that the U.S. financial crisis ended in mid-2009 is very far from the case. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation fund which is used to bail out depositors in failed banks had a deficit of $20.7 billion as of March 31, 2010. The number of “problem banks” (i.e., those at risk of failing) jumped to 775 in the first quarter of 2010 from 702 in the fourth quarter of 2009. As of September 1, 2010, 11% of all U.S. insured banking institutions were at risk of failure, according to the FDIC.
See also: GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s—1929-1933
BANK FOR INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS
An international bank based in Basel, Switzerland which is owned by the central banks of many nations (55 central banks as of 2009) and which serves as a transfer agent for currencies and gold between these various central banks. The heads of these central banks meet every two months in Basel and there is an annual General Meeting.
BANKS — and Mortgage Business
Over the past 60 years, and especially since the mid-1980s, mortgages and mortgage securities have formed an ever-growing percentage of bank assets, and have contributed an ever-growing percentage of bank profits. (See graph at right for the situation in the U.S. from 1952 to 2004.)
Normally the primary source of profit for banks is from borrowing at a low rate of interest, and loaning out the money at a higher rate of interest. But how is it possible for the companies that borrow from banks to pay this interest at all? It is because they have extracted massive surplus value from their own workers. In short, bank profit, to the extent that it comes from the interest charged to capitalist corporations (and therefore to the greatest extent), comes ultimately from the surplus value created by wage labor in material production.
During the imperialist era another source of bank profit has expanded in a major way—financial manipulations and speculation. This was especially the case for American investment banks in the first decade of the 21st century, where such a speculative frenzy developed that it seems to have even become for a time the primary source of profits! That is, until the wild speculative bubbles in sub-prime mortgages, Collateralized Debt Obligations, and the like collapsed in 2008.
A legal arrangement or status of a company (or individual) which is unable to pay its debts. Bankruptcy proceedings may be started by either the insolvent debtor, or by one or more of the creditors to which money is owed. Once the legal system (i.e., a judge) rules that the company (or person) is bankrupt, a receiver is appointed by the judge to seize and then sell some or all of the remaining assets and to use the funds to repay the creditors to the extent possible.
With regard to companies, there are two main types of bankruptcy in the United States: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the former, the company is “liquidated” (closed down and all its assets are sold off for the benefit of the creditors). In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, an attempt is made to reorganize the company so that it can continue in business and eventually pay its debts. For the time being the company is protected against the claims for payment by its creditors. Both forms of bankruptcy are often used to screw the workers at these companies: labor contracts are often voided, as are the company’s obligations to pay pension benefits, etc.
BARAN, Paul (1910-1964)
Prominent American Marxist economist associated with the Monthly Review school. He was professor of economics at Stanford University from 1948-1964, and during much of this time may have been virtually the only Marxist economist allowed to hold a position at an American university. Baran’s most important works were The Political Economy of Growth (1957) and Monopoly Capital (1966) co-authored with Paul Sweezy.
[In China during the Mao era, and especially during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution:] A para-medical worker with only limited formal training who provided medical services, sometimes only part-time, primarily in rural areas where there were as yet almost no doctors available to the people. They promoted hygiene, preventive health care, and family planning, and treated common injuries and illnesses. They acted as the primary health-care providers at the grass-roots level and brought the first wave of medical care to millions of people who never before had access to any at all.
“Many people say, yes, you’ve got all these para-medical workers, but
what kind of level have they got? What kind of doctors are they really? Do they really
look after the health of the people? This raises very big questions, including the
question of what attributes a doctor should have.
“Some people think that the most important attributes are to have a lot of degrees, to have gone through a lot of specialist courses, to have a good bed-side manner, and so on. I’m not belittling the importance of professional skill, and mastery of modern techniques. But in my opinion, the most important attribute that any doctor can possibly have is the determination to put the interests of his patients before everything else, to devote his whole life to the service of his patients, of his fellow men. If he has this drive, if he has this motivation, he’s a good doctor. And if he doesn’t have it he falls short of being a good doctor no matter what his technical or professional level is.
“Peasant doctors have this determination to be of service to their fellow men. To whatever degree their technical or professional knowledge falls short of the ideal, that can be put right in time. And will be put right in time. Because to have a sense of responsibility towards your patients means that you also have the determination to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to serve their needs. It’s part of the same thing.
“So I say to those good people who say, ah well, what kind of doctors are they? they don’t really count—I say they do count. I say this is the kind of doctor of the future—this is not an expedient, this is not just a stop-gap measure. This is how doctors of the future will be trained, rooted among the people. They will come from the people, they will be motivated by a desire to serve the people, they will not be separated from the people, by their income, their dress, their motor cars, where they live, or anything else. They’ll merge with the people and serve them to the best of their ability.” —Dr. Joshua Horn, “The Mass Line”, a wonderful 1971 speech available in full at: http://www.massline.info/China/JHorn-ML.htm
BARMBY, (John) Goodwyn (1820-1881)
A British utopian socialist of the Victorian era. He and his wife Catherine were devoted followers of Robert Owen in the 1830s and 1840s, and were also strong feminists. They then shifted the focus of their attention to radical Christian Unitarianism.
The exchange of commodities for each other without using the medium of money. For example, someone might trade a TV set for a piece of furniture. Or on the international level, one country might trade a number of tons of iron ore for a certain large number of bushels of wheat.
Barter began in prehistoric times, before money even existed yet. The origin of money, in fact, lies in the tendency to compare the value of different bartered goods to a standard commodity (such as gold) which is relatively rare, indestructable, portable, and so forth. In the modern world, large-scale barter between nations is often an indication that no stable or otherwise acceptable common currency is available to smooth the transaction. Within a country, barter is sometimes used between individuals or companies to hide income and thus avoid paying taxes on that income.
BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE
Concepts of historical materialism: The base (or “basis”, or “economic base”) is the totality of the underlying relations of production in a given society, or in other words, the underlying economic structure; the superstructure is the totality of all the social phenomena which ultimately arise from this base and depend upon it, but nevertheless also tend to influence the base in its turn. The superstructure therefore includes social consciousness (including all forms of ideology), human social relationships other than those which constitute the relations of production, and institutions and organizations that make up society, such as the State, political parties, law courts, churches, etc.
BASEL MANIFESTO (1912)
“A Manifesto on war adopted unanimously by an Extraordinary Congress of the 2nd International held in Basle [or Basel] (Switzerland) on November 24-25, 1912. The Manifesto pointed out the predatory aims of the war the imperialists were preparing and called upon the workers of all countries to wage a resolute struggle against war. The Basle Manifesto repeated the propositions of the resolution adopted by the Stuttgart Congress of the 2nd International in 1907, moved by Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, that if an imperialist war should break out, socialists should take advantage of the economic and political crisis created by the war to prepare for a socialist revolution. When the World War broke out in 1914, the leaders of the 2nd International, Kautsky, Vandervelde and others, who had voted for the Manifesto, consigned it to oblivion and began to support their imperialist governments.” —Note 24, Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
One hundredth of one percentage point. This is a non-ambiguous way of talking about changes in percentages, which is most commonly used in discussing capitalist finance. If the interest rate on certain types of bonds rises from 7.52% to 8.02% then it has risen by “50 basis points”. (If instead you say that it has “risen by .50%” this could be misinterpreted to mean a rise of .005 x 7.52% = .0376 to a final value of 7.5576%.)
A term coined by Joan Robinson to refer to various other bourgeois economists (especially Americans such as Paul Samuelson) who adopted aspects of the Keynesian perspective but crudely distorted it in the direction of standard neoclassical bourgeois economics, especially by covertly restoring the supposed validity of “Say’s Law”. The “bastards” distorted Keynes by arguing that, given a certain level of savings, the government could ensure enough investment, which Robinson found little different than the neoclassical claim that savings determines investment, and which ignored the effect of insufficient market demand (underconsumption) upon investment. Robinson complained that Keynes’ concept of “effective demand” had been abandoned and also that there was little concern for understanding what capital actually was.
“Say’s Law implied that there could not be a deficiency of demand; the bastard Keynesian doctrine takes the rate of saving as knowable and then through fiscal and monetary policy arranges an equal amount of investment, thus restoring Say’s Law. [Robinson says:] ‘Under its shelter all the old doctrines creep back again, even the doctrine that any given stock of capital will provide employment for any amount of labor at the appropriate equilibrium level.’” —Marjorie Shepherd Turner, Joan Robinson and the Americans (M.E. Sharpe, 1989, p. 111.)
BASTIAT, Frédéric (1803-1881)
French bourgeois economist who preached the harmony of class interests in capitalist society.
BAUER, Bruno (1809-1882)
German idealist philosopher and ideologist who was one of the “Young Hegelians”. He was a bourgeois Radical and became a national-liberal in 1866.
BAUER, Edgar (1820-1886)
German political writer and “Young Hegelian”; the brother of the better-known Bruno Bauer (see above).
BAUER, Otto (1882-1886)
A prominent Austrian Social-Democrat, and revisionist ideologist of the Second International.
BAYLE, Pierre (1647-1706)
French skeptical philosopher and critic of religious dogmatism. He was a forerunner of the French Enlightenment, and the author of Dictionnaire historique et critique (1695-7). This work was viewed as notorious in its own day for, among other things, arguing that morality and religion are not in any way essentially connected, and for illustrating this in part by exposing the outrageously immoral conduct of many Church officials.
The qualities or collection of qualities in a person or thing which gives great pleasure to the senses and thus stirs ones emotions. In the 19th century beauty was considered to be the exclusive, or else by far the main, concern in the philosophy of art. But over the past century aesthetics has expanded to include a great many other concerns, such as questions about what sort of thing a work of art is, why art is so important to human beings and why it has such a great impact on us, what the relation is between art and society, and so forth. Even the answer to the question “What makes a work of art a good work?”, which was formerly assumed to be simply beauty has now been greatly expanded to include things such as the effect of the work upon society, the degree to which the work influences other artists, etc. In short, beauty, while still quite important in aesthetics, is no longer all-important.
BEBEL, August (1840-1913)
One of the founders of the German Social-Democratic Party, and a prominent leader of it and the Second International. For the most part, he actively opposed revisionism and reformism.
1. [In psychology and ethology (the study of animal behavior):] The view that a scientific approach to the study of mind should not discuss any internal mental states, but should rather simply focus on outward observable behavior. (However, often those psychologists who favor this approach also uphold behaviorism in the philosophical sense as well: see definition 2.) Among the well-known behaviorist psychologists were J. B. Watson (1878-1958) and B. F. Skinner (1904-1990).
2. [In philosophy:] An erroneous naive materialist theory of the mind, which holds that for a person or animal to exhibit mental states or capacities is just for it to have certain behavioral dispositions. Behaviorism thus in effect denies the existence of mental phemonena. While it is true that mental phenomena have a material basis in the processes and functioning of the brain, it is absurd to deny the existence of these phenomena or to imagine that our internal recognition of them is some sort of invalid fantasy, as the behaviorists suggest.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about behaviorism.
See: PEKING REVIEW
[To be added...]
See also: EXISTENCE
BELL, Daniel (1919-2011)
American bourgeois sociologist best known for his theories of so-called “post-industrialism” (a term which he coined). His early career was spent as a journalist on various establishment magazines, including 10 years working for the corporate business magazine Fortune.
A favorite theme in bourgeois sociology is that capitalist ideology has triumphed for all time and that all other ideologies, and especially Marxism, are now “dead”. The ruling class therefore welcomed with open arms his influential book The End of Ideology (1960) which proclaimed the “exhaustion” of non-bourgeois ideas. His obituary in the Economist (Feb. 5, 2011) wryly noted, however, that “His timing could hardly have been worse: the 1960s was one of the most ideologically charged decades in American history.” And, indeed, we are now once again entering another period of rising anti-capitalist ideology, as is inevitable when capitalism sinks into crisis.
In his book The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973), Bell noted the ongoing relative expansion of service industries (as compared with manufacturing), the growth of technology industries (as compared with old-line industries), the rise of what are now often called “knowledge workers” (as opposed to blue-collar and clerical workers), and the waning of the class struggle in the United States. The first and second of these trends were indeed occurring, but in characterizing this as the rise of “post-industrial society” Bell failed to appreciate the absolutely essential nature of the continuing manufacturing base in any economy. The long-term gradual destruction of the manufacturing base in the United States, which has been going on for decades now, has become one major aspect of its extremely serious structural crisis.
Bell’s third idea, about the rise of “knowledge workers” was also true for a time. But we are now in a period when even “knowledge work” is in very serious decline in the U.S. One reason is the offshoring of more and more of this work overseas. The other, deeper, reason is that computers are now leading to the automation of not just manufacturing and clerical jobs, but also ever-growing numbers of “high-tech” jobs. Bell’s fourth idea, about the decline of the class struggle in the U.S. also reflected a temporary phenomenon, which was only possible because of the expansion of American imperialism and the intensified exploitation of other countries. In recent decades, and especially since the collapse of the “New Economy” bubble around 2001, the ruling class has been forced to spread around ever fewer crumbs from the imperialist banquet table to the U.S. working class. In general Bell recognized some contemporary socioeconomic trends circa 1970, but did not begin to understand the limits of those trends.
Bell’s book The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976) worries that capitalist culture promotes insatiable desires for endless self-gratification by people, which might destroy the work ethic which he, like Max Weber, claims was a major factor in the development of capitalism. In fact, this type of unrestrained consumerism has helped promote huge debt bubbles which have allowed capitalism to avoid sinking into a new depression for as long as it has. Capitalism needs debt bubbles to function at all, and a culture which promotes such bubbles is therefore also necessary to it—despite the obvious fact that all such bubbles must burst in the end.
Daniel Bell considered himself to be a social democrat at least through the 1970s, and as late as 1978 wrote that “I am a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture.” However, this was always the absurdly phony “socialism” of those who think that socialism is compatible with capitalism. Bell served on a couple Presidential advisory commissions in the 1960s and 1970s, and was a life-long ideologist of the bourgeoisie. He was always totally opposed to genuine socialism and social revolution.
A logical demonstration, derived by physicist John S. Bell, from the axioms and postulates of quantum mechanics, that one or the other of the following two options must be true:
1) We must deny that particles (and other, larger quantum mechanical entities) have any definite properties until they are measured; or
2) We must allow that the separate and isolated particles in the universe are somehow connected with others distantly located in a way which allows instantaneous communication between them. (This option seems to violate Special Relativity.)
Bell’s Theorem has been used to argue for the absurd Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics and against any possible validity for the Hidden-Variables Interpretation. Obviously neither option is very palatable to materialists, though perhaps the second is slightly less repulsive than the first.)
However, several lines of opposition to the conclusions of Bell’s Theorem are possible. For example, the conclusions seem to only hold within the framework of quantum mechanics. If there is some way to investigate particles (or other aspects of the physical world) in a non-quantum-mechanical way, then Bell’s Theorem may not even apply. Moreover, we know that in the macro world we have all sorts of ways of investigating reality in non-quantum-mechanical ways. The issue would then be whether or not there are similar methods to investigate the micro world.
Another possible line of opposition to Bell’s Theorem may lie in simply rejecting or reformulating one or more of the axioms and postulates that Bell used to prove his theorem.
Yet another line of attack on this apparently idealist theorem is to demand some coherent explanation of what “measurement” is supposed to amount to in quantum mechanics. (This has never yet been completely clarified.) We should by no means just assume that Bell’s Theorem is actually sound and applicable to all of reality. Personally, I’m quite sure that one of these forms of criticism of the Theorem will shoot it down in the end.
BENTHAM, Jeremy (1748-1832)
English moral philosopher and judicial reformer, and one of the main founders of utilitarianism. Bentham, more than anyone, was responsible for giving utilitarianism its bourgeois, hedonist twist.
Marx appropriately calls Bentham “an arch-Philistine” and an “insipid, pedantic, leather-tongued oracle of the ordinary bourgeois intelligence of the 19th century”. In a footnote he adds: “With the dryest naivete he [Bentham] takes the modern shopkeeper, especially the English shopkeeper, as the normal man. Whatever is useful to this queer normal man, and to his world, is abolutely useful. This yard-measure, then, he applies to past, present, and future.... [Bentham is] a genius in the way of bourgeois stupidity.” —Marx, Capital, vol. I, ch. XXIV, sect. 5: (International, pp. 609-610; Penguin, pp. 758-9.)
See also: Philosophical doggerel about Bentham.
BERDYAEV, Nikolai Alexandrovich (1874-1948)
Reactionary religious and idealist philosopher and mystic. In his youth he became what was called a “Legal Marxist”, but afterwards became very hostile to Marxism and the revolution. His philosophy has sometimes been characterized as a type of Christian existentialism. For a few years after the October Revolution he was permitted to continue writing and lecturing in Russia. But in 1922 he was exiled via a “Philosophers’ Ship” because of his unrestrained hostility to socialism and the Soviet Union.
BERGSON, Henri (1859-1941)
Reactionary French idealist philosopher known for his unscientific theory of vitalism.
See also: ÉLAN VITAL, and Philosophical doggerel about Bergson.
BERKELEY, George (1685-1753)
Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop. Berkeley (whose name is pronounced “bark-lee”) was an exponent of subjective idealism, and held that everything in the world is dependent for its existence upon being in someone’s mind, or in the mind of God.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about Berkeley.
BERNANKE, Ben (1953- )
A prominent American bourgeois economist who was appointed by President George W. Bush to succeed Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on February 1, 2006. Four years later President Obama reappointed Bernanke for a second 4-year term. Bernanke has overseen the Federal Reserves’s greatest increase in power since its initial creation in 1913. But he was incapable of preventing (or to this point resolving) the great financial crisis that developed so ferociously in the fall of 2008.
Bernanke is supposed to be one of the greatest “authorities” on the financial and economic aspects of the Great Depression of the 1930s, but as the following quotation shows, he doesn’t even understand the basic cause of that Depression. In a speech in honor of the ultra-reactionary bourgeois economist, Milton Friedman, he said:
“Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna [Schwartz, Friedman’s coauthor]: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.” —FRB Speech: Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke, At the Conference to Honor Milton Friedman, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, November 8, 2002.
Thus Bernanke does not even recognize that depressions are inherent in the capitalist mode of production! Instead, like most bourgeois economists, he thinks the (last) Great Depression was entirely due to “mistakes” on the part of government officials. Meanwhile, he is in charge of the U.S. economy as it stumbles in the direction of the next Great Depression! While the massive Keynesianism of both the Bush and Obama administrations, which Bernanke supported, is indeed mitigating the current crisis for a while and to a degree, that crisis is still developing, and—with ups and downs—will continue to do so. In the end Bernanke and his fellow bourgeois economists will be left scratching their heads and wondering, “What the hell happened?!”
BERNSTEIN, Eduard (1850-1932)
A prominent German social-democratic revisionist theoretician and politician, who led the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) into what he called “evolutionary socialism” and what we revolutionary Marxists recognize as mere bourgeois liberal reformism.
See also below and: BREAKDOWN THEORY, “ORGANIZED CAPITALISM”
A revisionist trend in international Social-Democracy which arose in Germany at the end of the 19th century and which is named after one of its most prominent advocates, Eduard Bernstein. Bernstein strove to revise the revolutionary heart out of Marxism in the spirit of bourgeois liberalism. In Russia Bernsteinism took form as “Legal Marxism”, “Economism”, Bundism and Menshevism. Similar trends developed in other countries.
BETHUNE, Norman (1890-1939)
Norman Bethune was a Canadian surgeon and Communist who worked in Spain in support of the Republic during the Spanish Civil War, and who later went to China to work in the medical core of what became the People’s Liberation Army. He died in China in 1939 of blood poisoning after nicking himself with a scalpel during a long day of operations on wounded soldiers.
In his early medical career in Canada he recognized that many of the greatest health problems arose because poor people did not have adequate access to the health care system; from the failure of the health system to focus on preventive medicine; and from other consequences of the capitalist social system in general. During the Great Depression of the 1930s Bethune frequently sought out the poor and provided them with free medical care. He was also one of the earliest advocates of a national health care system for everyone (“socialized medicine”).
While in Spain he developed the world’s first mobile medical unit which administered blood-transfusions and operated on soldiers near the front lines, thus saving many lives. In China he further developed this idea into more complete mobile surgical hospitals which saved the lives of a great many revolutionary soldiers. (Other armies later copied this idea, including the United States Army which developed its “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” (M.A.S.H.) units late in World War II and more extensively in Korea and other imperialist wars.)
After his death, Mao Zedong immortalized Bethune’s internationalist revolutionary spirit in a very famous essay, “In Memory of Norman Bethune” [available online at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_25.htm ]. Ever since then Norman Bethune has been an inspiration to both the Chinese people, and to all Communists around the world.
“[Comrade Norman Bethune] arrived in Yenan in the spring of last year,
went to work in the Wutai Mountains, and to our great sorrow died a martyr at his post.
What kind of spirit is this that makes a foreigner selflessly adopt the cause of the
Chinese people’s liberation as his own? It is the spirit of internationalism, the spirit
of communism, from which every Chinese Communist must learn....
“Comrade Bethune and I met only once. Afterwards he wrote me many letters. But I was busy, and I wrote him only one letter and do not even know if he ever received it. I am deeply grieved over his death. Now we are all commemorating him, which shows how profoundly his spirit inspires everyone. We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man’s ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people.” —Mao, “In Memory of Norman Bethune” (Dec. 21, 1939), SW2:337-8.
BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP)
The main parliamentary party in India which represents right-wing Hindu nationalism, and desires the establishment of a theocratic Hindu state. The largest force in the network of organizations behind the BJP is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is a fascist Hindu nationalist organization. The BJP/RSS/etc. groups seek to gather support from Hindus by attacking non-Hindus, and have been behind most of the “communal violence” that has been so frequent and horrific in India.
See also: HINDUTVA
BHOODAN ANDOLAN [“Land Gift Movement”]
A voluntary land reform movement in India started by Archarya Vinoba Bhave in 1951. It was launched in the same naïve spirit of the philosophy of Mohandas K. Gandhi, and begged the landlords to simply give some of their excess land to the landless poor. A few did so, out of guilt or to appear beneficent or else from fear that they might otherwise lose all of their land through mass violence. However, compared to the great need for land by the poor, only a pittance was donated. Moreover, much of the donated land was of poor quality, and actually unsuitable for agriculture. Even worse, much of the supposedly “donated” land was actually given in name only, with the rich landlords retaining possession and control in reality.
For a recent Times of India report (Dec. 10, 2009) describing how farmers who have supposedly been the “beneficiaries” of this “Land Gift Movement” are now completely disillusioned and turning to revolution, see: “Bhoodan Farmers Ready to Emulate Maoists”
BIDI [Pronounced: bee-dee]
[From Hindi; sometimes spelled “beedi” in English.] A thin cigarette filled with tobacco and wrapped in a tendu leaf, commonly tied at one end with a string. This is a very popular form of tobacco use in South Asia and the Middle East.
BIG CHARACTER POSTER
A poster containing large Chinese characters which made them easy to read from a distance. They played an important role during the Chinese revolution, especially during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Upon their initial appearence during the GPCR the revisionist leaning high Party members tried to prohibit big character posters, but Mao’s support for them and their authors, and his general support for the masses speaking out and mass democracy, forced the revisionists to slink away and keep quiet.
“The big-character poster is an extremely useful new type of weapon. It can be used in cities and the countryside, in factories, co-operatives, shops, government and other organizations, schools, army units and streets, in short, wherever the masses are. Now that it has been used widely, people should go on using it constantly.” —Mao, “Introducing a Co-operative” (April 15, 1958).
A unit of area measurement for land used in Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of India. The size varies considerably from region to region. In Nepal the bigha equals about 1.67 acres (0.677 hectares). In Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, the bigha equals 0.3306 acres or roughly 1/3 of an acre (0.1338 hectares). In central India it usually equals 5/8 of an acre (0.2529 hectares).
“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire friendly Congress.” —Warren Buffet, billionaire capitalist investor, and the third richest person, proposing that there be a higher income tax rate for the rich, quoted in Time magazine, 2011. [Of course Buffet doesn’t go so far as to admit that the bourgeois class actually runs the U.S. and the world in its own interests. —S.H.]
The erroneous bourgeois theory that human beings, and their individual and social behavior, are entirely (or at least overwhelmingly) determined by their biological makeup. The most common specific form of this nonsense is genetic determinism.
See: BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY, and HINDUTVA
Monarchist gangs of thugs in Tsarist Russia formed by the police to fight against the revolutionary movement. They murdered revolutionaries, hounded progressives among the intellectuals and organized anti-Jewish pogroms.
The buying or selling of commodities under illegal circumstances. The goods sold may be stolen or smuggled, or have escaped government taxes, or be priced outside the bounds of current law (when price controls exist), or may consist of things (such as certain drugs or types of weapons) which the government has made illegal for ordinary people to possess.
In recent decades the dominant currency used in many black markets overseas has been the American dollar. By the 1990s about 75% of all U.S. $100 bills in circulation were overseas. It is thought that the production of very convincing counterfeit $100 bills, largely for use in such black markets, is what forced the U.S. government to redesign that bill in 1996. (The currency used in illegal black markets mostly comes from, and eventually gets redeposited into, “legitimate” commercial banks.) The black market within the U.S. itself may account for as much as 10% of GDP, but in many Third World countries it is thought to be a much higher percentage than that.
BLACK PANTHER PARTY
[To be added... ]
See also: GERONIMO PRATT, and COINTELPRO: FBI’s War on Black America (1989) [high quality 50 min. documentary video by Denis Mueller & Deb Ellis].
“BLACK SWAN EVENT”
A term invented by the Wall Street gambler Nassim Nicholas Taleb to refer to a major, supposedly unforeseeable event that fundamentally changes the situation. As applied to the bourgeois economy and the advent of financial crises, these things are not really “unforeseeable”, except for the precise timing of them. In other words, those who talk about “Black Swans” are usually only showing their own surprise and ignorance about some sudden new crisis and why it has developed.
BLANC, Louis (1811-1882)
French historian and petty-bourgeois socialist. During the February Revolution in France in 1848 he participated in the Provisional Government, but through his conciliation with the bourgeoisie helped them to undercut the workers’ revolutionary struggle. After the suppression of the June uprising in 1848 he went to England and returned to France in 1870. In 1871 he was elected to the National Assembly, but did not join the Paris Commune and instead remained one of its enemies.
BLANQUI, Louis Auguste (1805-1881)
Dedicated French revolutionary and utopian communist. He was the leader of a succession of secret revolutionary societies, participated in several conspiracies to seize political power, and as a consequence of the failure of these plots ended up spending over 36 years in prison. It has aptly been said of him that whenever a revolutionary upsurge struck France Louis Blanqui was not a leader of it—because he was already in prison! Marx and Engels admired Blanqui for his revolutionary enthusiasm and dedication, but they strongly criticized him for his conspiratorial strategy and failure to understand the necessity of organizing the masses for revolution, and making the revolution a mass-based phenomenon. Blanqui himself had little knowledge about how to organize the masses, had little faith in them or their potential, and actually did not really trust the masses. He thought that once one of his conspiratorial plots was successful he would still not be able to fully trust the masses for some time or institute democracy. In this he showed his pronounced paternalistic attitudes toward the people. (That is not a complement!)
“The Blanquists, Lenin wrote, expected ‘that mankind will be emancipated from wage-slavery, not by the proletarian class struggle, but through a conspiracy hatched by a small minority of intellectuals’. Substituting actions by a secret clique of conspirators for the work of a revolutionary party, they did not take into account the actual situation required for a victorious uprising and neglected links with the masses.” —Note 66, Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
BLIND FOLLOWERS (Slavishness)
[Intro to be added... ]
“Communists must always go into the whys and wherefores of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and is really well founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness.” —Mao, “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (Feb. 1, 1942), SW 3:49-50.
The unintended negative consequences of a policy or action.
This term was invented by the American CIA to describe some of the negative consequences (even from their own reactionary bourgeois perspective) of the overthrow they engineered of the elected Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1953. Of course no class, movement or political party is totally immune from making mistakes which lead to consequences they do not desire. But the U.S. government and its “intelligence” agencies, because of their notorious stupidity, have been particularly prone toward doing this. Chalmers Johnson, who was once a consultant to the CIA himself (but who later became an opponent of American imperialism) wrote a well-known book with the title Blowback (2000) which documents many such episodes, though still from a bourgeois, anti-communist perspective.
BOGDANOV, Alexander [Pronounced: bog-DAN-ov]
[Pseudonym of Alexander A. Malinovsky] (1873-1928)
Russian philosopher and economist, writer and Social Democrat. He joined the Bolsheviks in 1903, but was expelled in 1909 because of his anti-Marxist views and activities. (See: OTZOVISM.) Although he started out as a vague sort of materialist, he soon veered into a doctrine known as Energism. Then he supported the extreme empiricist and subjective idealist doctrines of Ernst Mach. Next, his confused attempts to overcome the conceptual difficulties of Machism led him to create a kind of objective idealist theory of knowledge which he called “Empirio-Monism”. (He published a 3 volume work with that title in the years 1904-06.) After that he moved into other areas and tried to formulate a theory he called “tectology”, a supposed universal organization science (somewhat like the later theories by others which are known as “cybernetics” and “systems theory”). But throughout this whole long and strange intellectual odyssey he stood opposed to dialectical materialism, and was strongly criticized by Lenin for this (including in Lenin’s 1908 book, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism).
In 1917 Bogdanov was a founder and the leader of the “Proletkult” organization which sought to promote proletarian culture, but which also proclaimed the necessity for the total replacement of all existing cultural forms with “completely new” proletarian forms of culture. This view too was strongly criticized by Lenin.
Bogdanov’s writings had made a very strong impression on Nikolai Bukharin, who was one of the top theoreticians of the Bolsheviks at the time, and on many others as well. Partly for this reason Bogdanov had quite a reputation himself as a Marxist theoretician by 1917, despite his idealistic theories which had been exposed by Lenin earlier. In 1920 Lenin re-published his book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism in order to combat this renewed idealist trend centered around Bogdanov in the revolutionary movement. At the same time, the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) established more political control over the Bogdanov’s Proletkult organization, which had developed its own line partly opposed to that of the party.
[To be added... ]
[To be added... ]
BOLTZMANN, Ludwig (1844-1906)
Famous Austrian physicist who was a staunch materialist in his outlook (though not a Marxist), and who criticized subjective idealist views such as those of Ernst Mach.
BOND [In capitalist economics]
A security certificate, or “IOU”, for a long-term loan either to a corporation or to a government (or government agency). Bonds usually pay a fixed rate of interest for a fixed period, and at the end of that period the principal must be repaid in full. (However, in a capitalist society—which inherently depends on ever-rising debt—the principal for expiring bonds is most often paid by raising money through the issue and sale of new bonds!) Most of the time bonds are more conservative investments than stocks; they have less risk of a sudden fall in market value, but also less possibility of increased value through any Ponzi-like general rise in prices such as often occurs in the stock market. Nevertheless, the owner of the bond may also sell it at market prices to another investor, who will then receive the interest and also get the returned principal when it comes due. Since there is this market of fluctuating bond prices, there is also gambling by speculators who hope to buy low and sell high and therefore cheat the other investors/speculators.
See also: GOVERNMENT SECURITIES and JUNK BOND
Left wing of the Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionary Party, a peasant-based nationalist party, which split off and briefly functioned as an independent party starting in May 1918. They published a central journal known as Borotba [“Struggle”]. This was the faction of the SRs in Ukraine that decided to support Soviet power. In March 1919 they adopted the name “Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Revolutionary-Borotbists (Communists)”, which was soon shortened to “Ukrainian Communist Party (Borotbists)”. Its leaders included Vasil Blakitny, Grigory Grinko, Ivan Maistrenko and Aleksander Shumsky.
The Borotbists applied twice for affiliation with the Communist International as the main communist party of Ukraine, but the Comintern viewed this as an attempt to split the Ukrainian people and called on them to dissolve their party and merge into the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine. Some of the Borotbists did so. Because of the growing stature of the Bolsheviks among the Ukrainian peasantry, the rest of the Borotbists voluntarily dissolved their own organization. But some of their former members joined the Ukrainian Communist Party [Ukapists] and participated in further nationalist agitation against the USSR.
The form of capitalist society in which the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is camouflaged by superficial (i.e., fundamentally false) democratic forms. One favorite technique is to alternate rule between two different bourgeois political parties, both of which represent the fundamental interests of the capitalists and which differ only on secondary questions on which the capitalists themselves are not in agreement. The masses are accorded a minor role in deciding which of these two basically indistinguishable parties (from the proletarian point of view) shall administer capitalist power in any given period, in order to give them the illusion that they are controlling society. Whenever bourgeois rule is seriously threatened the capitalists dispense with the camouflage and resort to fascism.
“Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” —Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (Oct.-Nov. 1918), LCW 28:243.
“There is not a single state, however democratic, which has no loopholes or reservations in its constitution guaranteeing the bourgeoisie the possibility of dispatching troops against the workers, of proclaiming martial law, and so forth, in case of a ‘violation of public order’, and actually in case the exploited class ‘violates’ its position of slavery and tries to behave in a non-slavish manner.” —Lenin, ibid., LCW 28:244.
Any of numerous variations of moral attitudes and views which express the basic interests of the bourgeoisie. For example all forms of bourgeois morality defend—either explicitly or implicitly—the right of the capitalists to exploit workers.
[To be added.... ]
The capitalist class; the ruling class in capitalist society, which owns the means of production (factories, etc.) and exploits hired labor.
“By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern Capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage-labor.” —Engels, footnote added to the 1888 English edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, MECW 6:482.
BOURGEOISIE—Past Revolutionary Role Of
While the bourgeoisie, or capitalist class, is today the most reactionary and anti-revolutionary class, and the class that stands in the way of social progress, this was not always so. In its youth the bourgeoisie led in the struggle against feudalism in Europe, and in that long past age actually played a most revolutionary role in society.
“Modern industry has established the world market, for which the
discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to
commerce, to navigation, to communications by land. This development has, in its turn,
reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation,
railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its
capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
“We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.
“Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), MECW 6:486.
“The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” —Marx & Engels, ibid., MECW 6:486-7.
BRADLEY, F. H. [Francis Herbert] (1846-1924)
Reactionary English philosopher who was an absolute idealist.
See also: NEUROPLASTICITY
The theory, found at various places in the writings of Marx and Engels and less frequently in later Marxists, that capitalist economic crises will get worse and worse, and eventually lead to a breakdown of the whole capitalist system. Of course this does not imply that the system will break down regardless of what the working class and masses do! It tacitly assumes that really bad economic conditions, along with the other miseries of capitalism (such as war), will lead the proletariat to take conscious revolutionary action to overthrow the capitalists and take power itself.
The breakdown theory was totally rejected by revisionists, starting with Eduard Bernstein, and also by “centrists”. But during long periods of general economic stability and more or less short and mild recessions, the theory has also often been rejected by various Marxist revolutionaries. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, however, the breakdown theory came back in vogue, often in the form of the theory of the General Crisis of Capitalism. During the long post-World War II boom, and even during the decades of the Long Slowdown beginning in the early 1970s, the breakdown theory once again fell into disrepute among most Marxists. But starting in 2008, with many Marxists beginning to recognize the possibility or even certainty of a new depression on the horizon, one which some of us predict will be even worse and much more prolonged than that of the 1930s, the breakdown theory is once again starting to make a lot of sense.
BRENTANO, Franz (1838-1917)
Austrian idealist philosopher and psychologist who produced his own metaphysical system, distinct from that of Kant, which was “permeated with the spirit of theism and Catholic scholasticism”. Like Kant’s metaphysics, however, it was a very strongly agnostic theory, which claimed that we cannot know the true nature of reality which lies behind our perceptions. He is famous (or notorious?) for the absurd idealist claim that Wahrnehmung ist Falschnehmung (“perception is misconception”).
Brentano re-introduced the concept of “intentionality” into philosophy from the Medieval Scholastics. However, as with the terminology of other idealist metaphysicians, it is not at all clear what he means by the term exactly, even though it is evidently a key concept for him. In claiming that all mentality is intentional he seems to be saying that mentality orients itself toward some real or imagined object and expresses an attitude towards that object. Brentano was a strong influence on a number of other bourgeois philosophers including Edmund Husserl, as well as on the early development of psychology.
BRENTANO, Lujo (1844-1931)
German bourgeois economist and proponent of “state socialism”; one of the leading champions of “Katheder socialism”. He argued that it is possible to achieve social equality under capitalism through reforms and agreements with the capitalists, and specifically by means of factory legislation and labor unions. He and his followers used this theory to oppose the revolutionary working class movement.
See also below.
[Named after Lujo Brentano (see above).] A liberal reformist doctrine that recognizes “class struggle” but only if it is a non-revolutionary class struggle which is restricted to the goals of reforms within the capitalist system.
“‘Brentanoism’ [is the] bourgeois-liberal theory recognizing the non-revolutionary ‘class’ struggle of the proletariat...” —Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (1918), LCW 28:239.
The peace treaty between Soviet Russia and the German bloc (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria), which was signed on March 3, 1918 at Brest-Litovsk.
“The terms of the treaty were extremely harsh for Soviet Russia; Poland, the whole of the Baltic area and part of Byelorussia came under German control. The Ukraine was separated from the Soviet Republic and converted into a state dependent on Germany. Turkey received Kars, Batum and Ardaghan. In August 1918, Germany forced on Russia a supplementary treaty on economic questions by which the Soviet state had to pay a large indemnity: 1,500 million rubles in gold and bank-notes, and 1,000 million in goods. After the revolution in November 1918 in Germany, which overthrew the monarchical regime, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on November 13 annulled the predatory Brest treaty.” —Note 11 to Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
BRETTON WOODS SYSTEM
The basic post-World War II international monetary system between countries which was agreed upon in 1944 at a conference at Bretton Woods, a resort in New Hampshire, by the Allied capitalist powers who went on to achieve victory in the war. At that time, after a prolonged period of depression and world war, the U.S. held most of the gold bullion in the world, so the foundation of the new system was the U.S. dollar which was pegged to gold. All other currencies of capitalist countries were then fixed against the dollar.
However, over the next quarter century, as the economies of other countries (including the defeated Axis countries of Germany, Japan and Italy) recovered and more rapidly developed than the U.S., the holdings of gold by the U.S. declined rapidly. If nothing was done the U.S. would soon be depleted of gold and the whole system would collapse. In 1971, President Nixon unilaterally abandoned the Bretton Woods system by removing the connection between the U.S. dollar and gold (i.e., refusing to exchange dollars held by foreign governments for gold anymore). Since the Bretton Woods system collapsed, the currencies of the major capitalist countries have generally had floating exchange rates with each other. (Many minor currencies, however, have still been pegged to the dollar, with re-pegging as necessary when the imperialist exploitation of these countries, and consequent financial crises there, leads to a fall in the perceived value of their currencies.)
The Bretton Woods conference also led to the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which from the start have served the interests of the major Western imperialist countries, and especially the U.S.
BREZHNEV, Leonid (1906-1982)
The colorless state-capitalist bureaucrat who succeeded Khrushchev as boss of the revisionist Soviet Union in 1964. He held the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death. Corruption grew exponentially in the country during this period and Brezhnev—though well aware of this fact—made no serious effort to stop it. By giving the excuse that no one could live just on their own wages, he even further promoted corruption both among the new bourgeois ruling class and also, to some extent, within the working class!
While the military power of the revisionist USSR grew massively during Brezhnev’s reign, the state-capitalist economy more and more slipped into serious stagnation and crisis. This long-deepening economic crisis eventually undermined the Soviet Union to such an extent that it collapsed completely in 1991. Brezhnev was also responsible for the disastrous social-imperialist invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 that became the equivalent of the U.S. military disaster in Vietnam.
“Here is a book so dull that a whirling dervish could read himself to sleep with it.... If it were read in the open air, birds would fall stunned from the sky.” —Clive James, beginning a review of Leonid Brezhnev’s memoir.
The term “BRIC” is frequently used, especially in bourgeois business and economic circles, to refer collectively to the following four countries and their economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four countries, and especially China, have been expanding their economies at a fairly rapid pace over the last decade or two, which is making them more and more important in the world economy. Russia, though, has been the weakest of the four economies (especially since the price of oil dropped down from its recent peak in the mid-2000s).
The four BRIC countries (see above) plus South Africa. This term is sometimes used as informal shorthand for the few most rapidly developing countries which are (or once were) considered to be part of the “Third World”. The South African economy is distinctly weaker than the others here, and it was included mostly for political reasons—i.e., to have a country from Africa represented in the group.
BROUSSE, Paul (1844-1912)
French petty-bourgeois socialist who led an opportunist faction known as the Possibilists in the late 19th century.
BROWDER, Earl (1891-1973)
A revisionist leader of the Communist Party USA, who was the General Secretary of the Party from 1930 to 1945, and was finally expelled in 1946.
During the 1930s Browder enthusiastically embraced the “popular front” tactic promoted by the Comintern, and interpreted this to mean open support for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal. He and the CPUSA merely pushed for additional reforms within this framework. Browder made one or more secret trips to the Soviet Union during that decade, and in 1940 was sent to prison for having used a false passport. Roosevelt pardoned him after 14 months when the U.S. entered World War II and the Soviet Union became its ally. During the war Browder became the leading champion of Rightist and revisionist ideas within the Party. Browder often seemed far more enthusiastic about the 1776 American bourgeois revolution than about any future socialist revolution:
“[Browder] argued that the Declaration of Independence foreshadowed the Communist Manifesto and extolled Jefferson and Lincoln as exemplars of American radicalism. The party played ‘Yankee Doodle’ at its meetings, decked its platforms in the Stars and Stripes, and adopted the slogan: ‘Communism is 20th-Century Americanism.’” —From a book review by the bourgeois writer Michael J. Ybarra, Washington Monthly, July-August, 1997.
From December 1943 onward Browder advocated a revisionist-capitulationist line in a number
of speeches and articles and in April 1944 published his book Teheran: Our Path in War and
Peace which served as his overall Rightist programme. Disagreeing with Lenin’s
characterization of imperialism as monopolistic, decadent and moribund capitalism, Browder
claimed that U.S. capitalism “retains some of the characteristics of a young capitalism”
and that there was a “common interest” between the proletariat and the big bourgeoisie in the
U.S. On this basis he pleaded for the safeguarding of the system of giant monopoly capitalist
corporations and even suggested that this class conciliation might put an end to economic
crises! In May 1944, in a despicable act of liquidationism, Browder presided over the formal
dissolution of the Communist Party and its reconstitution as a non-Party organization, the
Communist Political Association. Long before Khrushchev, Browder also declared that communism
and capitalism could peacefully co-exist.
Although there was some disgruntlement within the CPUSA/CPA about Browder’s views and actions, it took foreign criticism to get rid of him. In 1945, Jacques Duclos, a prominent leader of the Communist Party of France, and probably acting at the behest of Stalin, published an article criticizing Browder and Browderism. A powerful opposition to Browder then developed under the leadership of William Z. Foster. In June 1945 the CPA passed a resolution denouncing Browder’s political line, and in July of that year a special national convention re-established the CPUSA with Foster as Party Chairman. Browder was expelled from the Party in February 1946 because he persisted in his stand, and because he openly supported the imperialist policies of the Truman Administration and engaged in factional activity within the Party.
Outside the Party, Browder continued to champion the same ultra-revisionist line and proudly proclaimed that “the American Communists had thrived as champions of domestic reform” while he was in charge. Browder was correct in saying that the CPUSA was dominated by Moscow, but the main reason he objected to this was that he wanted an even more revisionist-capitulationist political line. Curiously enough, Browder had apparently facilitated Soviet spying in the U.S., and even his own sister was a Soviet spy in Europe. Despite his later complaints, he seems to have had much more loyalty toward the Soviet Union than he did toward the central principles of Marxism-Leninism.
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See also: ASSET BUBBLES, CREDIT BUBBLE, HOUSING BUBBLE
BUKHARIN, Nikolai Ivanovich (1888-1938)
One of the long-time prominent leaders and theoreticians of the Communists in Russia. He was born in Moscow, and joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party in 1906. In 1912 he became one of the editors of Pravda. While he had a number of disagreements with Lenin, Lenin still highly valued him. At the time of Lenin’s death in 1924 Bukharin was one of the three most prominent leaders of the Communist Party (along with Stalin and Trotsky). From 1926 to 1929 he played a prominent role in the Executive Committee of the Communist International. In 1934 he became editor of Izvestia, but in 1937 Stalin had him arrested on charges of conspiring with followers of Trotsky (which was almost certainly false). After a show trial, he was executed in 1938.
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See also: EQUILIBRIUM THEORY, HISTORICAL MATERIALISM [Book]
“There are interesting parallels between Bukharin’s relationship to Lenin and Edward Bernstein’s to Engels. Bernstein, too, was a close collaborator and almost like an adopted son to the aging leader of the movement. Like Bukharin, he developed the older man’s intellectual legacy, as he understood it, into a highly controversial doctrine shaking orthodox Marxism to its very foundations. In both cases, the departure is in the direction of greater flexibility, tolerance, moderation, and democratization. In developing Lenin’s last articles and speeches into a more coherent program, Bukharin laid the groundwork for an interpretation of communism which allows for gradualism, and balanced growth, a mixed economy, pluralism, polycentrism, and the desirability of an open, democratic political system. Bukharin is therefore the most important link between Leninism and what might today be called reform communism. His ideas are an important early statement of ideas expressed today in such currents as Titoism, Libermanism, East European ‘Revisionism,’ Jay Lovestone’s doctrine of American exceptionalism, as well as Togliatti’s notion of polycentrism. In short, Bukharin is the most important early spokesman of a gradualist wing within communism, the proponent of an almost Fabian program of moderation...” —Alfred G. Meyer, Introduction to an edition of Bukharin’s book, Historical Materialism: A System of Sociology (Univ. of Michigan Press, 1969). [This sort of acclaim by a bourgeois liberal is just the sort of thing that makes us revolutionary Marxists all the more suspicious and critical of Bukharin! —S.H.]
BULGAKOV, Sergei Nikolayevich (1871-1944)
A Russian theologian, idealist philosopher and bourgeois economist who was a “Legal Marxist” in the 1890s. After the 1905-07 abortive revolution in Russia he joined the Constitutional-Democrats the leading bourgeois party in Russia. In 1922 he was exiled abroad on a “Philosophers’ Ship” for his anti-Soviet activities, and continued his hostile propaganda against the Soviet Union from there.
“The General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia;
founded in 1897, it embraced mainly the Jewish artisans in the western regions of Russia.
The Bund joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party at its First Congress in March
1898. At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. Bund delegates insisted on the recognition
of their organization as the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat in Russia. The
Congress rejected this organizational nationalism, whereupon the Bund withdrew from the
“In 1906, following the Fourth (‘Unity’) Congress, the Bund reaffiliated with the R.S.D.L.P. The Bundists constantly supported the Mensheviks and waged an incessant struggle against the Bolsheviks. Despite its formal affiliation with the R.S.D.L.P., the Bund remained an organization of bourgeois-nationalist character. As opposed to the Bolshevik programmatic demand for the right of nations to self-determination, the Bund put forward the demand for cultural-national autonomy. During the First World War of 1914-18 the Bund took the stand of social-chauvinism. In 1917 the Bund supported the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government and fought on the side of the enemies of the October Socialist Revolution. During the Civil War, prominent Bundists joined forces with the counter-revolution. At the same time, a turn began among the rank and file in favor of support to the Soviet Government. When the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat over the internal counter-revolution and foreign intervention became apparent, the Bund declared its abandonment of the struggle against the Soviet system. In March 1921, the Bund dissolved itself and part of the membership joined the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) as new members.” —Note 97, LCW 5:551-552.
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BUREAUCRACY — In General and Under Capitalism
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BUREAUCRACY — Under Socialism
[Intro to be added...]
“Immediately arrest Kogan, a member of the Kursk Central Purchasing Board, for refusing to help 120 starving workers from Moscow and sending them away empty-handed. This to be published in the newspapers and by leaflet, so that all employees of the central purchasing boards and food organizations should know that formal and bureaucratic attitudes to work and incapacity to help starving workers will earn severe reprisals, up to and including shooting.” —Lenin, Telegram to the Kursk Extraordinary Commission (Jan. 6, 1919), during the civil war and famine; LCW 36:499.
The policy of class-collaboration which the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) came to with the German bourgeoisie during World War I.
“Burgfrieden—literally ‘fortress peace’ or ‘castle peace’ but more
accurately ‘party truce’—is a German term used for the political truce the Social
Democratic Party of Germany and the other political parties agreed to during World War I.
The trade unions refrained from striking, the SPD voted for war credits in the Reichstag
and the parties agreed not to criticize the government and its war. There were several
reasons for the Burgfrieden politics: the Social Democrats believed it was their
patriotic duty to support the government in war; they were afraid of government
repression should they protest against the war; they feared living under an autocratic
Russian Czar more than the German constitutional monarchy and its Kaiser; and they hoped
to achieve political reforms after the war, including the abrogation of the inequitable
three-class voting system, by cooperating with the government.
“The only SPD member of parliament to vote against war credits in the second session was Karl Liebknecht. In the third session on March 20, 1915, Otto Rühle joined him. Over the course of the war the number of SPD politicians opposed to the war steadily increased. Their resistance against the Burgfrieden politics led to the expulsion of Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, and others from the SPD. These went on to found the Spartacus League, the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).
“The only trade union to refuse the Burgfrieden was the Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG), which would later become the Free Workers’ Union of Germany (FAUD).” —Wikipedia article “Burgfrieden” [as of 7/6/11].
1. A medieval European merchant or prosperous citizen.
2. A comfortably well-off bourgeois person. (And thus someone often appropriately despised by revolutionaries!)
Alternate name for what Marx called the Industrial Cycle.
See also: ECONOMIC CYCLES
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