Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- CA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ca-Cd.
- CE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ce-Cg.
- CH.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ch.
- CI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ci-Ck.
- CL.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Cl-Cn.
- COA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Coa-Col.
- COM.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Com.
- CONA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Con.
- COO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Coo-Cq.
- CR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Cr-Ct.
- CU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Cu-Cz.
Although this older “C.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.
CADETS (CONSTITUTIONAL-DEMOCRATIC PARTY)
“The chief party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie in Russia. It was formed in October 1905 and included representatives of the bourgeoisie, landowning Zemstvo members, and bourgeois intelligentsia. Prominent leaders of the Cadets included P.N. Milyukov, S.A. Muromtsev, V.A. Maklakov, A.I. Shingaryov, P.B. Struve, and F.I. Rodichev. While calling themselves the party of ‘people’s freedom’, the Cadets in reality sought to make a bargain with the autocracy in order to preserve tsarism in the form of a constitutional monarchy. After the February revolution, as a result of a bargain with the S.R.-Menshevik leaders of the Petrograd Soviet, the Cadets had a leading place in the bourgeois Provisional Government and pursued an anti-popular, counter-revolutionary policy favorable to the American, British and French imperialists. After the October Socialist Revolution the Cadets became irreconcilable enemies of Soviet power and took an active part in all the counter-revolutionary actions and campaigns of the interventionists. After the rout of the interventionists and whiteguards, the Cadets fled abroad and continued their anti-Soviet activity.” —Note 8, Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
[In revolutionary parties or countries:] Personnel who spend a large part of their time educating, organizing and leading others in political or economic work.
CALL or CALL OPTION
A form of fatalistic Christianity put forth by John Calvin (1509-64) and his followers, and still embraced by some Christians today. This absurd doctrine (though really no more absurd than any other of the great number of specific varieties of Christianity) is usually said to consist of five main points (summarized by the acronym ‘TULIP’ from the first letter of each): 1) Total depravity: that human beings are totally depraved and completely corrupted by “sin”; 2) Unconditional election: Since people can’t change on their own, God has merely chosen some of them to be “saved” (i.e., go to heaven) without regard to their behavior or character; 3) Limited atonement: Only God’s “chosen” can (with His help) atone for their sins; 4) Irresistible grace: You can’t thwart God’s effort to save you if that is what he has decided to do; and 5) Perseverance of the saints: The supposed “guarantee” that once God has saved you, you’ll remain saved no matter what. The main theme in all this is that God has already determined what is going to happen, and therefore human beings have no choice in the matter. This is a good example of the sorts of additional ridiculous conclusions that religious people always arrive at!
CAMUS, Albert [Pronounced (roughly): al-bear ka-MOO] (1913-1960)
French writer associated with existentialism, whose most famous book was L’Etranger [The Stranger, or The Outsider] (1942). Although active in the French resistance during the Nazi occupation, a member for a while of the revisionist Communist Party of France, and co-editor with Sartre of a “left”-wing newspaper for a few years after World War II, he was never a genuine Marxist revolutionary. In 1948 he broke with “left” political writing, and focused more exclusively on promoting his decadent philosophy that “absurd humanity exists in an absurd world”. He received considerable applause from the bourgeoisie for his anti-Communist writing, such as his book L’Homme Révolté [The Rebel] (1951). He also supported French imperialism in its efforts to maintain control of Algeria (where he as born) and other colonies. Nevertheless, Camus remains a favorite author in bourgeois academia. He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957.
CAPACITY UTILIZATION RATE
The proportion of a company’s, an industry’s, or the entire economy’s productive capacity that is actually being used at the given time. If 20% of the factories, mines, etc., in a country are completely closed down, while the other 80% are being used at full capacity, that would be an overall 80% capacity utilization rate. If all factories and mines are running, but with short hours or minus one or more work shifts, so that they collectively produce only 80% of what they really could, that is also an 80% capacity utilization rate. A high capacity utilization rate encourages the capitalists to build more factories and is characteristic of a strong economy, whereas a low capacity utilization rate makes the capitalists reluctant to expand production, leads them to focus more on cutting costs to boost sales, etc., and is a sign of a weak economy (or one in recession).
Obviously the capacity utilization rate depends on standards for what full capacity is understood to mean. Since the fundamental contradiction of capitalist production leads to the continual construction of new capacity that is not really needed, if the standards for what is considered to be operating at “full capacity” remained the same, the capacity utilization rate would drastically fall over time (though there would be smaller ups and downs within that overall trend). To hide this (and fool everyone, including themselves), from time to time the capitalists and their government lower the standards. Thus if at one time the definition for full capacity meant that factories operated around the clock with three shifts, but because of the increase in the number of factories, the usual situation is for most factories to have just one or two shifts, the standard for “full capacity” for the economy as a whole might be adjusted to say 1.5 shifts on average. In that case what the government counts as an 80% utilization rate might actually be only a 40% utilization rate on the older definition!
The U.S. capacity utilization figures are available on a monthly basis from the Federal Reserve website at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/G17/default.htm
“The history of war production [in World War II] thus demonstrates with crystal clarity that, as far as real capital is concerned, talk about a capital shortage is sheer nonsense. Not only does the United States economy have the latent ability to generate an enormous amount of new capacity, but it can fabricate a great deal more with just the existing capacity. If the standards for getting more production used during the Second World War were applied today [early 1976], we would probably find that only 50%, or maybe less, of existing manufacturing capacity is being used—instead of the official 75-percent figure based on current operating practices.” —Paul Sweezy & Harry Magdoff, “Capital Shortage: Fact and Fancy”, Monthly Review, April 1976. [By December 1976, that 75% utilization rate had fallen further to 73%. But that month the Federal Reserve succumbed to mounting pressure from the “business community” and other government agencies and revised their statistical series drastically upward again. What had been called a 73% utilization level was suddenly said to be 81%! (See: Business Week, Aug. 2, 1976, p. 16, and Dec. 13, 1976, p. 16.) This further amplified the point being made by Sweezy & Magdoff! —S.H.]
“According to a Fed [Federal Reserve] report on Apr. 15 , one-third of manufacturing’s productive capacity is going unused, the biggest share on record back to 1948.” —Peter Coy, “What Good are Economists Anyway?”, Business Week (April 27, 2009), p. 31. [The official U.S. capacity utilization rate for manufacturing in April 2009 was 65.6%. The preliminary rate for manufacturing for June 2009 fell further to just 64.6%, and for industry as a whole stood at just 68.0%. And again, keep in mind that these capacity utilization figures—as low as they are—are still more grossly exaggerated today than ever before! My guess is that at present the true capacity utilization rate is probably only about 35% by any reasonable standard. —S.H.]
[Simple definition: ] [To be added...]
[More precise, but more technical, definition:] Self-expanding value, or a value which generates surplus value (and hence more capital) as the result of exploitation of wage labor. Capital expresses the socioeconomic relations of production between the two principal classes in capitalist society—the capitalists (or bourgeoisie) and the workers (proletariat).
“Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.” —Marx, Capital, Vol. I, ch. 10, sect 1. (Penguin ed., p. 342.) [The idea being expressed here is that the capitalists, through their ownership of capital which came from the previous exploitation of workers, are thereby in a position to further exploit workers.]
CAPITAL (DAS KAPITAL) (The Book by Marx)
[To be added... ]
“Capital [is] the greatest work on political economy of our age.” —Lenin, “Frederick Engels” (1896), LCW 2:25.
CAPITAL (DAS KAPITAL) — Engels Editorship Of
“Marx died before he could put the final touches to his vast work on capital. The draft, however, was already finished, and after the death of his friend, Engels undertook the onerous task of preparing and publishing the second and the third volumes of Capital. He published Volume II in 1885 and Volume III in 1894 (his death prevented the preparation of Volume IV). These two volumes entailed a vast amount of labor. Adler, the Austrian Social-Democrat, has rightly remarked that by publishing volumes II and III of Capital Engels erected a majestic monument to the genius who had been his friend, a monument on which, without intending it, he indelibly carved his own name. Indeed, these two volumes of Capital are the work of two men: Marx and Engels.” —Lenin, “Frederick Engels” (1896), LCW 2:25-26.
CAPITAL ACCOUNT BALANCE
See: BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
CAPITAL — ACCUMULATION OF
Conversion of surplus value into capital. As capitalism develops there is a generally steady increase in the amount and rate of expansion of surplus value which goes into accumulation. Major interruptions occur in the process in the form of overproduction crises.
CAPITAL — CONSTANT
See: CONSTANT CAPITAL
CAPITAL-LABOR RATIO [Contemporary Bourgeois Economics]
The total capital invested (in an economy, sector or individual company) divided by the total hours worked by the labor force over a standard period of time (usually annually) and generally expressed as a percentage. If this ratio rises it tends to indicate that the capitalists are spending an increasing proportion of their investments on machinery rather than hiring workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the period from 1990 to 2008 the overall capital-labor ratio for the U.S. (including outlays for factories and other buildings) increased by 29%. This is obviously just another way of talking about the rising productivity of labor, and the fact that over time fewer workers are needed to accomplish the same amount of work. The BLS reports that the capital-labor ratio in just the information processing sphere (computers) rose by a massive 310% from 1990 to 2010. This explains the rapidly falling need for clerical, computing and many other “white-collar” workers.
This capital-labor ratio is a concept that is somewhat similar to (but not actually the same thing as) Marx’s concept of the organic composition of capital.
CAPITAL — VARIABLE
See: VARIABLE CAPITAL
A socio-economic formation based on the ownership of the means of production by the capitalist class (either in its traditional form of private ownership by individuals or corporations, or in the form of state capitalism where the capitalists own the means of production collectively as a class), and the exploitation of hired labor by the capitalists through the extraction of surplus value.
CAPITALISM — Fundamental Contradiction Of
See: FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTION OF CAPITALISM
CAPITALISM — and Morality
See: MORALITY—and Capitalism
The French phrase le capitalisme sauvage refers to American-style capitalism which is viewed as being more “savage” than that in Europe. Aspects of this American savagery include things such as the much inferior “safety net” for unemployed or injured workers in the U.S., the pathetically weak public health and welfare systems, etc., as well as the comparative recklessness and arrogance with which American capitalists speculate and operate. It is certainly true that some capitalist socioeconomic varieties are more savage than others, with the Nazi fascist regime perhaps being the worst of all time. And yet, the French term falsely implies that capitalism is somehow civilized and acceptable in contemporary Europe, which is total nonsense. All forms of capitalism are horrible, even the “best” of them.
CAPITALIZATION [Capitalist Finance]
1. The issuance of securities (bonds, shares of stock, etc.) in return for investment capital.
2. The calculation of the current lump sum value of a future stream of regular income or cash flow based on the equivalent financial capital it would require to achieve that income at current interest rates.
See also: FICTITIOUS CAPITAL, STOCK MARKET CAPITALIZATION
CARRY TRADE [Capitalist Financial Speculation]
The sphere of financial activity where a speculator borrows money in one financial market where interest rates are low, and then loans out the funds in another market where interest rates are higher. This is most commonly done across international borders, by borrowing money in a country where the interest rates are low (such as Japan in recent decadess), exchanging the borrowed currency for a different one (such as U.S. dollars), which he can then lend out at a higher interest rate in a different country. While this may seem to be a fullproof way to “get rich”, there are a variety of risks involved, such as the possibility that the exchange rate between the two currencies will change in an unfavorable direction for the speculator thus wiping out his gains and even part of his initial investment.
The religious/feudal division of the population into hierachical groups (castes and sub-castes) with the higher castes having the most advantages and privileges, and the lower castes being oppressed and discriminated against in many ways. Traditionally, and to a large extent still today, people are restricted in the occupations they may engage in, who they can marry, and so forth, on the basis of the caste they are born into. Although this ancient caste structure has weakened somewhat as India and the other countries of South Asia become more modernized (i.e., especially in the cities), it is still a very serious problem in the region and strong evidence that feudalism and feudal ideas remain strong there.
The caste system is associated with the Hindu religion especially. The highest and most privileged class is the Brahmins, who dominate many professions. The lowest caste, now called the Dalits (formerly known as the “Untouchables”) are the poorest and least educated. However, the Adivasis (or “tribals”) may be even worse off. Each year there are still many hundreds of “honor killings” in India in which families avenge inter-caste marriages and liaisons. It will almost certainly take a real social revolution in India to totally eliminate the caste system.
Caste Structure in Bihar |
This is the caste structure in the state of Bihar, which is
similar to (but not exactly the same as) the rest of India:
|“Upper” (or “Forward”) Castes
|“Upper Backward” Castes
|“Lower Backward” Castes||15.6%|
|Total for "Backward” Castes||50.0%|
|“Scheduled Castes” (Dalits)
[“Untouchables”] Includes: Ravidas,
Dusadh, and Musahar)
|“Scheduled Tribes” [Adivasis]||8.9%|
[Source: Prakash Louis, People Power: The Naxalite Movement |
in Central Bihar, (Delhi: Wordsmiths, 2002), p. 82.]
[In Marxist philosophy:] The most general notions or concepts reflecting the basic and essential properties and uniformities of the phenomena of nature, society and thought, such as matter, motion, time, space, consciousness, contradiction, necessity, chance, quality, quantity, capital, exploitation, etc.
[In Kant’s ethics:] A moral maxim which is unconditionally binding and which everyone must wish to become a universal law. As against this, first, in class society different classes have different ethical viewpoints, so “everyone” cannot possibly agree on moral maxims and their precise interpretations. Secondly, the complexity and dialectical nature of the world and society precludes virtually any moral maxim from being valid in all possible situations. (Despite what Kant foolishly thought, lying is not always wrong!) And third, the categorical imperative principle has the absurd effect of making some innocuous actions immoral. (It would be immoral to become a shoemaker, for example, because “if everybody did it” there would be no farmers and we would all starve to death!)
CAUSE AND EFFECT
[To be added...]
See also: Philosophical doggerel on the topic.
An abbreviation commonly used by revolutionaries in India to refer to the “Comprador Bureaucratic Bourgeoisie”, or in otherwords, the ruling class in India which is made up of a mixture of comprador capitalists and big bureaucrat capitalists.
See: COLLATERALIZED DEBT OBLIGATION
See: BANK, FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA)
The most important of the many intelligence and covert operations agencies of the United States government. It is notorious for overthrowing elected governments in other countries (such as in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954), for assassinations, torture and virtually every other crime that can be thought of, all in the service of U.S. imperialism.
The CIA is also notorious for its incompetence and stupidity when it comes to actually gathering intelligence! (It failed to foresee the collapse of the revisionist Soviet Union or the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda, for example.)
See also: BLOWBACK
CENTRAL ORGANIZING THEORY
All theories in science are constructed for the purpose of organizing and explaining a diverse group of data, and as such all theories may be viewed as organizing theories. However, in any specific sphere of science there is usually one central theory, or at least only a very few such theories, without which the whole subject has little coherency and makes little overall sense. This is what we mean by a central organizing theory. In biology, for example, the theory (or fact) of evolution is often appropriately considered to be the central organizing theory. In geophysics, the theory of plate tectonics is now the central organizing theory. In the science of revolutionary Marxism the central organizing theory is historical materialism.
[In Marxist usage:] Views and positions which attempt to find a “middle ground” between revolutionary Marxism, on the one hand, and liberalism or revisionism, on the other hand. In other words, centrism is in practice usually a weaselly form of revisionism itself.
It should be noted, however, that merely from the fact that one holds a view which is in between two extremes, it does not follow that one is a “centrist” in the Marxist sense. For example, revolutionary Marxism itself holds a view in between pacificism and the sort of wild-eyed anarchism that views violence as always being appropriate, no matter what the circumstances.
CHANGE — Sudden
Virtually all major natural and social processes and developments occur through periods of relatively long and gradual changes leading up to comparatively sudden and major qualitative changes. Often these periods of gradual and sudden change alternate. Why this unevenness? It is because change, when viewed as a single overall process, is actually composed of many different smaller changes and subprocesses, each of which is governed by laws appropriate to its own particular contradictions. Or, in other words, some of the subprocesses proceed at one speed, others at a different speed. And those which proceed quite fast are for relatively longer periods held up by those among the prerequisite changes and subprocesses which proceed more slowly.
Some changes must necessarily occur very rapidly. This is perhaps most obvious in natural science. Chemical changes often happen extremely fast—and not just in the case of explosions! Sub-atomic particle interactions generally happen even faster, in tiny fractions of a nanosecond! (On the other hand, even there all physical changes take some amount of time; strictly speaking, there is actually no such thing as “instantaneous change”.)
But even in human society some changes must be brought about quite rapidly if they are to be successful at all. There is an apocryphal story that illustrates this: Some country or other once decided (for whatever reason) to switch over its roads so that instead of driving on the left side of the road, people would drive their vehicles on the right side of the road. Supposedly some government official told the public not to worry about the switchover, because “the change will take place gradually”. In reality, of course, that would be the very worst way to try to do it! It would be much more sensible to say, for example, that as of 2 a.m. on some very quiet Sunday morning all traffic will be required to simultaneously change from driving on the left to driving on the right. Many of the major steps in social revolution must likewise be carried out very rapidly if they are to be successful. Certainly this is true of revolutionary insurrection, for example.
An early mass semi-revolutionary movement of British workers which arose because of the bad economic conditions they suffered and their political disenfranchisement. Chartism was one of the earliest working class movements in the world. The Chartist movement began with (and takes its name from) the People’s Charter of 1838 which focused on voting rights. The movement lasted up to around 1850, and during that period it held numerous mass meetings and demonstrations. The movement fell apart, however, principally because it did not develop a steady and solid revolutionary leadership and because it lacked a clear-cut programme.
CHASI MULIA ADIVASI SANGHA (CMAS)
A militant but peaceful organization of adivasis, or tribal people, in the southwestern part of Orissa state in India. In particular the CMAS has struggled for the redistribution of land to the adivasis, and against illegal mining on their land by giant mining corporations. The CMAS has been accused by the police and media of being a front organization of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), and this was the “excuse” given by the police for murdering 3 adivasis (including a CMAS leader) at a demonstration led by CMAS in Narayanpatna, in southern Orissa, on November 20, 2009. However, the leadership of the CMAS is actually made up of some of the middle range of revolutionary forces in India, who have been trying to wage a peaceful struggle for the people. In an interview, one of these top CMAS leaders, Gananath Patra, explained their political ideology and strategy this way:
Satyabrata: The state has militarized itself. What will its effect
be on the movement?
Gananath Patra: We know very well that behind the military intervention of the State is its intention to militarize our movement in order to find a plea to brutally subjugate it. We know their intentions and we are careful about any move we shall be taking. The movement must continue.
Satyabrata: The CMAS is being projected as the frontal organization of the Maoists. Is that true?
Gananath Patra: You mean the CPI(Maoist). No. we have considerable differences with the CPI(Maoist) line, though they are our sympathizers and critics. I believe in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, which has considerable differences with the Maoism of the CPI(Maoist). Our method of occupying and cultivating land is mass line task and has nothing in common with the CPI(Maoist).
Satyabrata: Why are you being projected as Maoists then?
Gananath Patra: We pose a danger to the status quo the ruling class wants to maintain and hence it wants us to be branded as Maoists. Then the matter becomes simple; pick up anyone who is against this status quo, brand him a Maoist and rob him of his movemental potentiality by either putting him behind bars or by gunning him down. History has been spectator to this strategy of several States at several conjunctures in the past. The state has banned the CPI(Maoist) to facilitate this purpose. [From: “Narayanpatna: An Interview with Gananath Patra”, online at: http://sanhati.com/articles/1917/]
However, it seems that Gananath Patra has inadvertently put his finger on the fatal problem
with the CMAS political strategy: The state will simply not allow them to proceed with
their programme no matter how peaceful they are. They will simply be attacked and destroyed
by the armed forces of the Central and state governments of India. Peaceful strategies will
not work against governments willing to shoot you dead anyway.
In early December 2009 hundreds of adivasi people associated with CMAS surrendered to the police in what was falsely billed by the media as a large surrender of “Maoists”. Those are the alternatives facing the people there: abject surrender to the government and their perpetual victimization, or else a very different form of struggle involving the force of arms.
However, as of January 2010, it appears that either the CMAS organization, or part of it, or at least a large number of those who have been members of it, are moving rapidly towards the Maoists and the Maoist approach to revolution. See the news article “India Drives Tribals into Maoist Arms” for more information.
A “chattel” is an item of property other than real estate (i.e., other than land and buildings). So chattel slavery means the same thing as what we ordinarily just call slavery. However, the full term is useful since all forms of exploitive class society actually amount to slavery in a broad sense. In chattel slavery, the slaves are owned outright by the exploiting class (the slaveowners); in feudalism, the “slaves” (serfs) cannot be sold since they are tied to specific estates and land, but otherwise are almost the same as owned by the aristocracy (feudal landlords); in capitalism, the wage-slaves are not owned by individual capitalists, but rather they are in effect owned by the capitalist class as a whole. Each individual worker is usually free to quit working for one capitalist, but must then go to work for another in order to survive.
See also: SLAVE SOCIETY
1. Patriotism, expecially “excessive”, “blind” or absurdly exaggerated patriotism.
2. Male chauvinism: Partiality towards, or promotion of the rights and privileges of men as compared with those of women.
3. Similar sorts of partiality and favoritism with regard to some other sub-set of humanity.
All forms of chauvinism favor the rights and privileges of one section of humanity above all the other sections. In bourgeois usage, ‘chauvinism’ means only excessive patriotism, or excessive concern for the rights and privileges of men (or some other section of the people). But from the revolutionary Marxist point of view it is not just the “excessive” tendencies like this which are chauvinistic, but any such tendencies at all!
See: ERNESTO “CHE” GUEVARRA
CHIANG KAI-SHEK (New style: JIANG JIESHI) (1887-1975)
A reactionary Chinese military leader and political dictator who was eventually overthrown on the Chinese mainland by the Chinese Revolution in 1949. He then fled with the remnant of his army to Taiwan where he ruled as dictator until his death.
Chiang was an associate of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Guomindang [Kuomintang] or Nationalist Party, and assumed control of the GMD after Sun’s death in 1925. Chiang had been the commandant of the GMD’s Whampoa Military Academy, and had become the top GMD military leader. In 1928 he led the Northern Expedition (with considerable support from the Soviet Union and members of the Communist Party of China) which succeeded in displacing a number of warlords and in more or less unifying the country.
But Chiang then turned on the CCP which had been supporting him within the GMD, and massacred thousands of its members and sympathizers. Chiang led a pitifully inadequate nationalist resistence to Japan’s invasion of China during the 1930s. This gave an opening for the CCP, under Mao’s leadership, to wage a more determined fight against Japanese imperialism. Even during World War II Chiang spent considerable effort fighting the Communists (rather than Japan); but after the Japanese surrender he turned his full attention toward trying to wipe out the Communists in a major civil war. However, despite enormous material help from the U.S. (and only very limited help to the Communists from the Soviets) Chiang was defeated and fled to Taiwan.
On Taiwan he established martial law and ruled in his usual dictatorial manner. The GMD, at first with Chiang’s son in charge, continued to rule Taiwan for many years after his death, until bourgeois democracy was finally introduced there. Most of the hundreds of statues of Chiang on Taiwan that the GMD erected have been taken down and even there a majority looks back at him with complete disdain.
[To be added... ]
A term used during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China to refer to the revisionist Liu Shaoqi (Liu Shao-chi), especially during the early years of the criticism directed against him when his name was not explicitly mentioned.
[To be added...]
See also: MAO ZEDONG, FENG YU-LAN, YANG CHU
CHOMSKY, Noam (1928- )
Famous American linguist and political radical, who is known very widely for both things. He is perhaps the most prominent American intellectual who regularly speaks out against United States imperialism. Politically he is variously described as an anarchist, an anarcho-syndicalist, or a libertarian socialist. He is surprisingly weak when it comes to political theory and political economy, but quite often effective in criticizing American foreign policy.
Chomsky is one of the most famous linguists in history, and his contributions starting in the 1950s are now known as the “Chomskyian Revolution” in that branch of science.
In the 1950s, Chomsky began developing his theory of generative grammar, which has undergone numerous revisions and has had a profound influence on linguistics. His approach to the study of language emphasizes “an innate set of linguistic principles shared by all humans” known as universal grammar, “the initial state of the language learner,” and discovering an “account for linguistic variation via the most general possible mechanisms.” He also established the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power. In 1959, Chomsky published a widely influential review of B. F. Skinner’s theoretical book Verbal Behavior, which was the first attempt by a behaviorist to provide a functional, operant analysis of language. In this review and other writings, Chomsky broadly and aggressively challenged the behaviorist approaches to studies of behavior dominant at the time, and contributed to the cognitive revolution in psychology. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has influenced the philosophy of language and mind. [From the “Chomsky” entry at Wikipedia.com]
Chomsky first became known as a critic of American foreign policy during the Vietnam War.
He has published a large number of books which expose the day-to-day activities and outrages of
American imperialism in detail. Indeed, sometimes these books are a bit dull because of all their
many details and extensive source notes! But his writings are a good source for particulars about
the actual role of the United States in the world today. Chomsky has also given many extensive
interviews (a number of which have been published in book form), and gives frequent public
lectures on political matters (many of which are available as videos on the Internet).
Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist, which he says is “the proper and natural extension of classical liberalism into the era of advanced industrial society.” [“Government in the Future” (1970)] The surprising thing, however, is how very non-radical his political ideas are when you look at them carefully! He seems to think that American politics is “democratic”, or has mostly been so far (even if there are now growing “limitations” to that “democracy”. He has no deep theoretical criticism of bourgeois democracy, of the sort that Lenin did. When it comes to political economy, his ideas are even more startling! He actually said in a recent video that contemporary American corporations can be “democratized” and thus be transformed to serve the people. He has little or no understanding of Marxist political economy, and doesn’t even understand something as basic as the nature of surplus value. Thus, like many liberals, he thinks the cause of the current economic crisis is the foolishness of the banks in creating and promoting sub-prime mortgages and securities based on them, and doesn’t even begin to understand that capitalist economic crises are inherent in capitalism, and ultimately arise from the very extraction of surplus value!
Chomsky’s contributions to linguistics are important (though not always completely correct), as are his constant criticisms of American foreign policy. But his theoretical writings and lectures on politics and economics are of little value. He is called an “anarchist”, and even wrote a book promoting his idea of what anarchism is. But actually he is proof of how pedestrian and non-revolutionary anarchism can sometimes be! He is really only proposing that we make some rather limited and superficial modifications to the American bourgeois socioeconomic system that in fact deserves to be completely destroyed and reconstructed from the ground up.
[To be added... ]
See also: COMMUNISM—Among Early Christians
See: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
CIRCULATION PROCESS OF CAPITAL
[Intro material to be added... ]
“All the differentiations in capital arising from the circulation process—in fact the circulation process itself—are actually nothing but the metamorphosis of commodities (determined by their relationship to wage-labor as capital) as an aspect of the reproduction process.” —Marx, TSV, 3:268.
The sphere of society which takes up the middle ground between the private sphere of individuals and their families and the official sphere of the state. This includes the large number of voluntary organizations and associations, NGOs, political parties, trade unions, professional associations, charities, churches and religious organizations, cultural and educational groups, etc. In bourgeois society it would seem that this should also include capitalist companies and corporations (though this is often downplayed or ignored), but it would also definitely include all the many organizations formally or informally representing the capitalists, such as the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, industry groups, lobbying organizations, numerous reactionary “think tanks”, and so forth.
The general concept of civil society can be traced back to ancient times, but derives especially from the thinkers of the Enlightenment, and after that especially Hegel and Marx. It was also a prominent theme of Alexis de Tocqueville’s book, Democracy in America (1840). De Tocqueville contrasted the voluntary associations of Americans for private and public purposes with the domination of the state in Europe, and felt that this tended to help form Americans into a distinctive nation.
However, in more recent times the notion of civil society has a much more pronounced bourgeois air to it. In bourgeois society bourgeois individuals, or at least bourgeois ideas, generally control or pervade most of the organizations and associations that make up civil society, as well as control the state. Despite this, civil society is presented as being somehow and in some way, qualitatively superior to the state. This is generally only really true for those relatively few parts of contemporary civil society that are controlled, or at least very strongly influenced, by the working class.
The liberal bourgeois tradition treats civil society as in many ways superior to the state, since the state ultimately depends on force, whereas the organizations of civil society are voluntary. However, as Lenin said, the bourgeoisie rules by means of the gendarme and the priest. Both are means of class rule, even if force lies directly behind one method while “mere” ideological indoctrination lies behind the other. Where ideology fails, force begins. If you start from the perspective of the actual needs and interests of the working class and masses, rather than simply focusing on which method of bourgeois domination of society is “best”, then the supposed superiority of the civil society seems far less clear. And curiously, the bourgeoisie itself often rails against civil society—though not in those terms—as when they condemn the pervasive role of “special interest groups” (omitting any mention of course of the groups which represent their own “special interests”!).
The fact is that both the bourgeois state and bourgeois civil society must be overthrown by the revolutionary proletariat! We will then construct our own revolutionary proletarian state and our own revolutionary proletarian civil society. (Some concessions will have to be made to the old civil society in order to maintain the unity of the masses, such as by allowing the continuance of religious groups provided they do not engage in counter-revolutionary activity.) Eventually, as socialism is transformed into communism and the proletarian state withers away, that proletarian socialist civil society will be itself further transformed into communist civil society.
“There is yet another major misconception–that ‘innocent’ people are being caught in the crossfire between the Naxalites and the police. First, this is not a fact. Secondly, the ‘people’ are not a homogeneous mass; the ruling elite and their hangers-on are with the state, while the masses of the oppressed are with the Naxalites. The former support state terror (as in the Salwa Judum), while the latter act together with the Maoists to resist such terror. The misconception of a homogeneous populace is linked to postmodernist thinking of a so-called ‘civil society’, which conceals class divisions within society. All the same, in conflicts involving state terror and the people’s resistance to it, there will be some sections not allied to either side, but the majority are polarised into two camps–a minority allied with the state, on the one hand, and the masses backing the Naxalites, on the other.” —Azad, spokesperson for the Communist Party of India (Maoist), “Maoists in India: A Rejoinder”, Economic and Political Weekly, October 14, 2006.
“Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organization of labor, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labor of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.” —Lenin, LCW 29:421
The determination (or attempted determination) of the actual social classes in a given society, together with their sizes, their maturity, their relative potential and importance in the political and revolutionary processes, their sub-sections (strata) and so forth. A reasonably correct class analysis is an absolutely necessary prerequisite for any rational revolutionary strategy.
CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS — Proletarian
[Intro to be added... ]
“Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers. The sphere from which alone it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships of all classes and strata to the state and the government, the sphere of the interrelations between all classes.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:422.
The collective interests of the members of a particular social class; the interests which they hold in common; the things which benefit them as a group. These differ greatly from one class to another. Thus the capitalist class has an essential interest in exploiting workers in order to generate surplus value and therefore profits. The working class, on the other hand, has a strong objective interest in ending this system of capitalist exploitation, whether or not individual workers are aware of this class interest of theirs at a particular time.
“[A]n essential condition for such an alliance [between socialists (communists!) and bourgeois democrats in the struggle for democracy] must be the full opportunity for the socialists to reveal to the working class that its interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of the bourgeoisie.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:362.
CLASS INTEREST THEORY OF ETHICS
The Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory of ethics which explains how different class moralities are based on the collective interests of the members of different social classes. [More to be added later.]
[The beginning portion of my book in progress on this topic is available from the Philosophy Page on MASSLINE.ORG. —S.H.]
The struggle between social classes with antagonistic (irreconcilable) interests.
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” —Marx & Engels, first sentence of chapter I of the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), MECW 6:482. In a footnote added to the 1888 edition, Engels notes that of course the sentence is only referring to written history, and that by then it was well known that there were no social classes in pre-history (before the advent of the Neolithic Age).
CLASS STRUGGLE — In Bourgeois Society
[Intro material to be added... ]
“The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of
feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new
classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old
“Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), MECW 6:485.
CLASS STRUGGLE — In Socialist Society
[To be added... ]
See: CHASI MULIA ADIVASI SANGHA
See: COUNCIL FOR MUTUAL ECONOMIC AID
Short for Combat Battalion for Resolute Action. This is yet another Indian government paramilitary force attempting to suppress the Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries).
CODE SWITCHING (Linguistics)
Varying your use of language when speaking to different types of people, or in different situations, or on different topics, etc.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE (Psychology)
Internal psychological conflict which arises from incongruous ideas and beliefs held simultaneously. Thus the confusion which results from holding incompatible or incoherent ideas.
Cognitive dissonance often develops for a period after someone initially changes their mind about some one important idea. For example, if a religious person abandons their irrational belief in God, they might for a time be confused about morality (assuming they previously thought that God’s word was the source of moral principles). Making one change in a person’s ideas often leads to a necessary cascade of further related changes, as the person switches from one general outlook to another, and tries to develop a new coherent overall worldview. Anybody who learns to seriously think at all has to go through this sort of thing. Thinking necessarily involves periods of confusion that take time and further thought and/or investigation to clear up.
[In ethics:] The first big division among all the various ethical theories that have been developed over the centuries is between cognitivism and non-cognitivism. Cognitivism holds that moral judgments are meaningful, and that they are either true or false. Non-cognitivism, incredibly, denies these facts! MLM Class Interest Ethics is of course a cognitive ethical theory. Thus we say a sentence such as “The U.S. imperialist war against Iraq is wrong!” is both clearly meaningful, and definitely true!
A secret program within the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the U.S. federal government to frame revolutionaries for crimes they didn’t commit, foment suspicions and conflict within revolutionary and radical groups, and blacken the reputations of revolutionaries with all sorts of false accusations and rumors. Although this sort of thing has gone on at one level or another within the government for well over a century and continues to happen today, the official COINTELPRO program ran from 1956 to 1971.
COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series
of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political
organizations within the United States. The FBI used covert operations from its
inception, however formal COINTELPRO operations took place between 1956 and 1971. The
FBI’s stated motivation at the time was “protecting national security, preventing
violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”
According to FBI records, 85% of COINTELPRO resources were expended on infiltrating, disrupting, marginalizing, and/or subverting groups suspected of being subversive, such as communist and socialist organizations; the women’s rights movement; militant black nationalist groups, and the non-violent civil rights movement, including individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, the American Indian Movement, and other civil rights groups; a broad range of organizations labeled “New Left”, including Students for a Democratic Society, the National Lawyers Guild, the Weathermen, almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, and even individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; and nationalist groups such as those “seeking independence for Puerto Rico.” The other 15% of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert “white hate groups,” including the Ku Klux Klan and National States’ Rights Party.
The directives governing COINTELPRO were issued by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who ordered FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these movements and their leaders. [From the Wikipedia entry on COINTELPRO.]
See also: GERONIMO PRATT
The long post-World War II contention between United States imperialism (and its bloc) and the Soviet Union (and its bloc). This contention came very close to becoming an inter-imperialist nuclear war at several points, most notably during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. But fortunately (and rather surprisingly!), all-out war did not happen. The contention was fierce, however, and involved a number of “proxy wars” by each side against the other, an enormous military arms race, major economic struggle, and so forth. During the first period (up until the mid-1950s), the Soviet Union was still a socialist country—though one with many serious defects—and from then on the Soviet Union was a social-imperialist country (i.e., socialist in name only, but capitalist-imperialist in actual fact). Thus most of the Cold War was an inter-imperialist contention between the two capitalist superpowers armed to the teeth. Humanity was lucky to have survived it!
[More to be added... ]
COLLATERALIZED DEBT OBLIGATION (CDO)
A share in a package of bonds or mortgages which is most often created in order to hide the high-risk nature of these particular bonds or mortgages. Since the risks of the underlying debt are hidden from view, both credit rating agencies and investors can be fooled into treating these CDOs as more conservative and valuable investments than they really are. The financial institutions issuing the CDOs can therefore trick unsuspecting (but greedy) investors into buying very risky debt by promising high interest rates. Thus even in their actual purpose, CDOs are yet another form of capitalist financial fraud.
See also: SECURITIZATION
“COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY” (In the Russian Village Commune)
See: VILLAGE COMMUNE—Collective Responsibility In
1. Living and working together as a group (as opposed to individualism).
2. An ethical theory based on the collective interests of groups of people (such as classes), rather than on the separate interests of individuals.
See: COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
A term used by bourgeois economists to describe planned economies (socialist or state-capitalist) where there is no (or very limited) open market for commodities at least within the sphere of production. (Even under socialism distribution of consumer goods to the public is still mostly through commodity markets until we get to a communist society.) Bourgeois ideologists oppose these “command economies” to the so-called “free market” economy, and therefore view “command economies” as inherently authoritarian and opposed to “freedom”. What they have failed to notice is that within virtually every capitalist corporation itself, there exists this very same sort of “command economy”! Thus every automobile corporation makes detailed and elaborate plans about how many cars to build, in a given period, the processes and materials to use, the design and location of its new plants, etc. State capitalism in the Soviet Union was also a planned economy for the most part, and in a sense “one big corporation” with multi-leveled layers of detailed planning. The commandist (anti-democratic and anti-mass line) structure and operation of revisionist Soviet industry has colored the conception of bourgeois economists about what a “command economy” must be like.
Under genuine socialism, and communism too, it will be important to oppose any actual commandist aspects that may develop in production, especially within the individual workplaces (where they are nearly universal and mandatory in capitalist production today). Emphasis on the mass line, proletarian democratic management of industry, and obtaining ideas and input from all the workers involved are our main tools to combat the possible secondary bad aspects of economic planning.
See also: PLANNING (Economic)
Ordering, or even forcing, people to do something, rather than using the method of discussion and persuasion to convince them to act. Commandism is a bourgeois method of leadership, not a proletarian method. But unfortunately, some revolutionaries have not been adequately trained and educated in the use of proletarian democratic methods. For this reason commandism within our own ranks is a continuing problem to be struggled against.
“Commandism is wrong in any type of work, because in overstepping the level of political consciousness of the masses and violating the principle of voluntary mass action it reflects the disease of impetuosity. Our comrades must not assume that everything they themselves understand is understood by the masses. Whether the masses understand it and are ready to take action can be discovered only by going into their midst and making investigations. If we do so, we can avoid commandism.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:316.
Certificates (IOUs) for short-term loans, often for a 3-month period, from one corporation to another. Holders of these IOUs can also sell them to other corporations.
COMMITTEES OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM
The Committees of Correspondence is a social-democratic (i.e., revisionist and non-revolutionary) organization, originally organized within the revisionist Communist Party USA as a pro-Gorbachev, anti-Gus Hall faction, and opposed to what was called “Leninism” in the CPUSA milieu. They were led by Gil Green and included many prominent members and close associates of the CPUSA, such as Herbert Aptheker, Angela Davis and the folk singer Pete Seeger. In 1991, at the time that Soviet social-imperialism was collapsing, they split off from the CPUSA to form an independent organization. Their name (appropriately) comes from the committees organized by the governments of the American states during the American bourgeois revolution for the purpose of promoting coordinated action against Britain. In the year 2000 they added the phrase “for Democracy and Socialism” to their name, which is ridiculous since they have no idea what either genuine democracy or genuine socialism even are! They are sometimes referred to by their initials as CCDS, and allow dual membership with the reformist so-called Socialist Party USA.
1. [In Marxist political economy:] A product of labor made for sale, rather than for direct use. “[A] commodity, that is, a use-value which has a certain exchange-value.” —Marx, TSV, 1:399.
2. [Widespread broad bourgeois sense:] Any product, regardless of whether it is produced to be sold or not.
3. [Narrow bourgeois sense:] A product which is produced by a large number of seriously competing companies, the sale of which therefore cannot create extra profits for any monopolistic or oligopolistic producer. Thus we see comments such as: “PC’s have become a commodity, which is why IBM got out of the business of selling them.”
See: PARIS COMMUNE, PEOPLE’S COMMUNES (China), UTOPIAN COMMUNE, VILLAGE COMMUNE (Russia)
1. Communist society.
2. A social ideal and theory of society in which there are no social classes.
3. [In bourgeois usage:] Any government or political movement which is at least vaguely or nominally influenced by Marx, Lenin or Mao Zedong, regardless of its real nature.
COMMUNISM — Among Early Christians
“Christianity knew only one point in which all men were equal: that all were equally born in original sin—which corresponded perfectly to its character as the religion of the slaves and the oppressed. Apart from this it recognized, at most, the equality of the elect, which however was only stressed at the very beginning. The traces of community of goods which are also found in the early stages of the new religion can be ascribed to solidarity among the proscribed rather than to real equalitarian ideas. Within a very short time the establishment of the distinction between priests and laymen put an end even to this incipient Christian equality.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:96.
COMMUNISM — Bourgeois Objections To
[To be added... ]
See also: FREE RIDER PROBLEM
[Marxist sense:] A person who works to bring about the overthrow of capitalism by the working class, and the transformation of capitalist society into socialism and then into communist society. Communists attempt to do this collectively, which means they form and promote revolutionary parties.
“They [Communists] have no interests separate and apart from those
of the proletariat as a whole.
“They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement.
“The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
“The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. II: MECW 6:497.
COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL (COMINTERN)
An international association of communist parties established under the leadership of Lenin... Also known as the “Comintern” for short, as the “Third International” (since it followed the Second International), and often simply as “the International”. [More to be added... ]
The first international organization of the revolutionary proletariat, which was founded in London in the summer of 1847.
“The League was organized and guided by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who, on instructions from the League, wrote its programme—the Manifesto of the Communist Party. The Communist League set itself the aim of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, destroying the old bourgeois society founded on the antagonism of classes and establishing a new society without classes and without private property. The Communist League played an important historical role as a school for proletarian revolutionaries and as the embryo of the proletarian party; it was the predecessor of the International Working Men’s Association (the First International). It existed until November 1852, its most prominent members later playing a leading role in the First International.” —Note 7 to Lenin, Selected Works, vol. I, (Moscow: 1967).
1. The morality of people in communist society.
2. The morality of communists (i.e., the same thing as proletarian morality while classes still exist). [I personally try to use the term only in the first sense, in order to avoid confusion. —S.H.]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MARXIST)
The largest revisionist so-called “Communist” party in India, most often referred to by their initials as the “CPM”. [More to be added... ]
“How uncivilised, if the wave of ‘boss-napping’ in France is indeed
sinister. [Referring to the article “Vive la différence!”, The
Economist, May 9, 2009.] It was different in West Bengal in the 1970s when the
Communists [CPM] took power. One afternoon, a colleague was informed that he and I
would be gheraoed (sourrounded, literally) at close of day
by the staff at the Calcutta office in protest at our regressive management policies.
Alarmed at what would be a delayed start to the usual whisky session at our club, we
negotiated and were granted permission by the protestors to leave early, go home to
shower, change into comfortable clothing and return suitably armed with our favoured
“And so we spent our evening surrounded by 35 staffers who made impassioned speeches and gave high-decibel calls for death to capitalists as we depleted a bottle of Black Knight. It didn’t much improve the taste of the whisky, and the calls for our demise did at times seem over the top. But sinister? Not at all.” —Letter from Stanley Pinto of Bangalore, India, to the editor of the British ruling class business magazine, The Economist, May 30, 2009, p. 20. [It is clear that even back in the 1970s the CPM was merely pretending to be revolutionary. Their calls for the “death of the capitalists” were merely part of their stage play secretly conducted along with the capitalists and designed to fool the masses.]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION
[To be added... ]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
[To be added... ]
The social revolution which transforms capitalism into communism, via a transitional stage of socialism, and in the process eliminates all social classes and therefore all exploitation of one class by another. The “Four Alls” listed by Marx state the four essential points of communist revolution.
COMMUNIST REVOLUTION — Bourgeois Fear Of
[Intro material to be added...]
“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. All the Powers
of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar,
Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
“Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?” —Marx & Engels, opening words to the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), MECW 6:481.
A classless socio-economic system in which all the means of production are owned and controlled by the people as a whole. The basic economic principle of communist society is “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”
See also: SOCIALIST SOCIETY
COMMUNISTS — Aims Of
The long-term goal of communists to is bring about communist society. However, there are many more immediate tasks which must be carried out for this to occur, each of them with many sub-tasks and sub-sub-tasks. The communists must:
Organize themselves into a political party;
Connect themselves up closely with the class struggles of the working class;
Educate the working class on the need for social revolution and what that means;
Help the working class organize itself for revolution;
Lead the working class and its allies in seizing political power;
After this seizure of power, transform capitalism into the transitional stage of socialism;
Lead the working class in struggling against any attempts by the old (or any newly developed) bourgeoisie to return to power; and,
Lead the working class in transforming socialism into communism, where no social classes exist any longer.
“The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. II: MECW 6:498.
“In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. IV: MECW 6:519.
“The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. IV: MECW 6:518.
“While actively leading immediate struggles, Communists in the capitalist countries should link them with the struggle for long-range and general interests, educate the masses in a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary spirit, ceaselessly raise their political consciousness and undertake the historical task of the proletarian revolution. If they fail to do so, if they regard the immediate movement as everything, determine their conduct from case to case, adapt themselves to the events of the day and sacrifice the basic interests of the proletariat, that is out-and-out social democracy.” —A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement: The letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in reply to the letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 30, 1963 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963), p. 19.
“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. IV, final paragraph: MECW 6:519.
“We Communists do not conceal our political views. Definitely and beyond all doubt, our future or maximum programme is to carry China forward to socialism and communism. Both the name of our Party and our Marxist world outlook unequivocally point to this supreme ideal of the future, a future of incomparable brightness and splendour. On joining the Party, every Communist has two clearly-defined objectives at heart, the new-democratic revolution now and socialism and communism in the future, and for these he will fight despite the animosity of the enemies of communism and their vulgar and ignorant calumny, abuse and ridicule, which we must firmly combat.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:282.
The philosophical view that free will is compatible with determinism. In other words, the view that although everything (including each of our own decisions) has definite causes, we are nevertheless still able ourselves to decide what actions to take. Dialectical materialism supports this compatibilist viewpoint.
Of course, there are normally reasons (either explicit or implicit, and either important or trivial) which determine what we consciously decide to do, but far from precluding a free choice, these reasons are what help us decide what choice to make. Conscious human beings (and also many other animals, for that matter) are themselves part of the causal chains that lead to the choices that they make. The parts of the causal chains that are internal to them, and which they are conscious of, are the parts they have control over, and therefore manifestations of their free will.
The opposite view, incompatibilism, holds that if determinism is true (i.e., if everything has causes—including each choice we make), then free will is impossible. But this is a simple-minded or naïve conception of what “free will” might plausibly be construed as. Philosophical idealists often subscibe to incompatibilism, because they do not wish to view people’s actions as being determined by physical causes. On the other hand, naïve materialists also sometimes subscribe to incompatibilism because they have a simplistic notion of what “free will” must mean, a notion similar to that of the idealists. Thus these naïve materialists accept the fact that everything, including each of our own choices, has causes, but falsely conclude that this means there can be no such thing as free will.
1. Under capitalism: The antagonistic struggle between different commodity producers for more advantageous conditions of production and sale of commodities and for higher profits.
2. SOCIALIST COMPETITION: A non-antagonistic sport-like contest between different production teams or enterprises to see which is capable of producing more and better goods for the people while at the same time striving to use less labor and fewer raw materials. The better methods developed by the winners are then freely communicated to all other socialist enterprises.
COMPLEMENTARITY (Quantum Mechanics)
A set of related philosophical concepts especially associated with the idealist Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. On a gross level, complementarity can simply refer to wave-particle duality in which the view of entities in the microworld as behaving as waves in some situations complements the view that these entities behave as particles in other situations. Here the concept of complementarity can be innocuous, and might only mean that in some experiments and situations it is useful to view electrons and other subatomic particles as waves instead of as particles.
However, complementarity usually implies an idealist philosophical stance, such as the view that microworld entities like electrons are in fact both waves and particles, or the view that they are “neither” until they are observed or measured, or the view that electrons and the like actually do not even have any definite properties at all until they are measured, and so forth. Here is one description of this conception of complementarity with an unsupported idealist philosophical conclusion at the end:
“A profound aspect of complementarity is that it not only applies to measurability or knowability of some property of a physical entity, but more importantly it applies to the limitations of that physical entity’s very manifestation of the property in the physical world. All properties of physical entities exist only in pairs, which Bohr described as complementary or conjugate pairs (which are also Fourier transform pairs). Physical reality is determined and defined by manifestations of properties which are limited by trade-offs between these complementary pairs. For example, an electron can manifest a greater and greater accuracy of its position only in even trade for a complementary loss in accuracy of manifesting its momentum. This means that there is a limitation on the precision with which an electron can possess (i.e., manifest) position, since an infinitely precise position would dictate that its manifested momentum would be infinitely imprecise, or undefined (i.e., non-manifest or not possessed), which is not possible. The ultimate limitations in precision of property manifestations are quantified by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and Planck units. Complementarity and Uncertainty dictate that all properties and actions in the physical world are therefore non-deterministic to some degree.” —From the Wikipedia article on Complementarity.
This idealist conclusion that “all properties and actions in the physical world are therefore non-deterministic to some degree” simply doesn’t follow! This is only a limitation on the formulas of quantum mechanics to determine properties and actions beyond a certain level of accuracy, not a limitation on the reality or definiteness of reality itself.
The comprador bourgeoisie, or comprador capitalists, refers to that section of the bourgeoisie within a country (especially a Third World country) which acts as the local agents of one or another foreign imperialist power and/or the corporations headquartered in one of those imperialist countries. Thus in China in the period leading up to World War II there was a major group of comprador capitalists working in league with the Japanese imperialists, and another major group of compradors working in league with the U.S. capitalists.
[Intro material to be added... ]
“The proletarian party must be flexible as well as highly principled, and on occasion it must make such compromises as are necessary in the interests of the revolution. But it must never abondon principled policies and the goal of revolution on the pretext of flexibility and of necessary compromises.” —A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement: The letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in reply to the letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 30, 1963 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963), p. 24.
CONDUIT [Contemporary Capitalist Finance]
A “special purpose vehicle” (dummy corporation) set up by a bank or financial corporation in order to: 1) keep risky assets and deals off of their own books (to circumvent the legal requirement that they keep larger reserves on hand, which would cut into their profits); and/or 2) for the purpose of engaging in misleading or fraudulent financial maneuvers and shenanigans. There are various financial deals that banks and financial corporations want to profit from, but which are too risky for them to engage in under their own name, so they set up these dummy corporations to do the same thing under a different name and to conduct the profits back to the mother corporation.
Conduits typically hold asset-backed debt (such as mortgages and car loans), credit card receivables, etc., and often borrow money from third parties (most commonly in the form of “commercial paper”) in order to buy these risky assets. Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs) are one particularly devious type of conduit.
CONFUCIUS (551-479 BCE)
[To be added...]
[To be added...]
See also: Nikolai KONDRATIEV
The internalization of morality within an individual to the degree that it becomes an automatic response, akin in some ways to an emotion. (The physical location of the conscience within the brain has been found to be in the prefrontal cortex.)
[To be added... ]
1. The view that only the consequences of an act are relevant in determining its moral justification, not the motives or intentions or “duty” of the person performing the act. Marxist ethics is an example of a consequentialist ethical theory, while Kant’s ethics is an example of one which is not.
See also: DEONTOLOGY
“In examining the subjective intention of a writer or artist, that is, whether his motive is correct and good, we do not judge by his declarations but by the effect of his actions (mainly his works) on the masses in society. The criterion for judging subjective intention or motive is social practice and its effect.” —Mao, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (May 1942), SW 3:88.
A theory that a secret conspiracy existed (or continues to exist) which led to some event, most often some well-known event such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Generally conspiracy theories are foolish nonsense cooked up by individuals who may or may not be right in being suspicious about some event, but who often construct elaborate stories to explain the event which are based on little or no evidence or investigation. Thus, while an occasional conspiracy theory might turn out to be true, in general such theories are a triumph of suspiciousness over investigation.
Sometimes young or naïve revolutionaries will construct or adopt conspiracy theories about capitalist society. Thus when first learning about social classes and the dictatorship of the ruling capitalist class, they might jump to the silly conclusion that this means that there are periodic secret meetings of all the important capitalists in a big room somewhere where all the important decisions are made. Such folks are not sophisticated enough to understand that all the ordinary public institutions of American society, including the Presidency and executive branch, the Congress and the judicial system, are themselves the means by which the capitalist class makes its decisions and rules. While there may indeed sometimes be secret meetings of important big-shots, for the most part the mechanisms of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie are quite open and public. However, the fact that this system of rule is actually the dictatorship of one class, the bourgeoisie, is something that is almost never openly admitted, and may not even be fully understood by all of those who are actually exercising that class dictatorship.
The sum total of the value of the means of production: the factories, machines, raw materials, fuel, electrical power, and other necessary products and material inputs used up in the production process, but not including labor-power which is placed in a separate category, variable capital.
[The above description is the standard definition of constant capital, as presented by Marx. However, on another interpretation still within the Marxist milieu, machinery can also be considered to be variable capital. For discussion of this point see the entries for variable capital and the Labor Theory of Value.]
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CONTRACEPTIVE PREVALENCE RATE
The percentage of women who are practicing, or whose sexual partners are practicing, any form of contraception. As defined by the World Health Organization, this is usually measured only for married women of ages of 15 through 49.
CONTRADICTION — Antagonistic
CONTRADICTION — Dialectical
[To be added...]
See also: Philosophical doggerel about dialectical contradiction.
“The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics.” —Mao, opening sentence in his famous essay, “On Contradiction” (Aug. 1937), SW1:311.
CONTRADICTION — Fundamental
In any entity or process there is (according to Marxist dialectics) always one contradiction which is the most fundamental, and which determines the fundamental nature of the thing or process. [More to be added... ]
See also: FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTION OF CAPITALISM, WORLD CONTRADICTIONS (Fundamental)
CONTRADICTION — Logical
[To be added...]
See also: Philosophical doggerel about logical contradiction.
CONTRADICTIONS — In Nature
The dialectical contradictions which exist in nature (the physical world) itself. According to Marxist dialectics, there are contradictions not only in human thought and human society, but also in the physical world. Those who don’t understand the basic idea of dialectical contradiction often fail to understand this. Thus Engels quotes Eugen Dühring as saying “Contradiction is a category which can only appertain to a combination of thoughts, but not to reality.” [Anti-Dühring, MECW 25:110.] Engels responds by pointing out that Dühring incorrectly identifies contradiction with absurdity, and therefore says that contradiction cannot occur in the real world. In short Dühring is not talking about dialectical contradiction at all, but rather about logical contradiction. Dialectical contradiction is a matter of oppositions (or conflict) within things and processes, while logical contradiction is simply a matter of simultaneously affirming a statement and denying it. Yes, it is unfortunate that the same term, ‘contradiction’, is used for these two very different things, but we are stuck with this situation for historical reasons. An educated person must come to understand that the term ‘contradiction’ means something different in different contexts. In speaking of contradictions in nature we are of course talking about dialectical contradictions, and not logical inconsistencies.
[More to be added... ]
CONTRADICTIONS — Within Socialism
See: SOCIALISM—Contradictions Within
COOPERATION — In Nature
[Intro material to be added... ]
“Of Darwin’s doctrine, I accept the theory of evolution, but assume Darwin’s method of verification (struggle for life, natural selection) to be merely a first, provisional, incomplete expression of a newly discovered fact. Before Darwin, the very people who now, wherever they look, see nothing but the struggle for existence (Vogt, Büchner, Moleshott and others), once laid particular stress on co-operation in organic nature, the way in which the plant kingdom supplies oxygen and food to the animal kingdom and, conversely, the latter supplies plants with carbonic acid and manure, as indicated notably by Liebig. Both conceptions are to some extent justified, but each is as one-sided and narrow as the other. The interaction of natural bodies—both dead and living—comprises harmony as well as strife, struggle as well as co-operation. Hence, if a self-styled naturalist takes it upon himself to subsume all the manifold wealth of historical development under the one-sided and meagre axiom ‘struggle for existence’, a phrase which, even in the field of nature, can only be accepted cum grano salis [with a grain of salt], his method damns itself from the outset.” —Engels, Letter to Pyotr Lavrov, November 12-17, 1875, MECW 45:106-7.
COPENHAGEN INTERPRETATION (of Quantum Mechanics)
The absurdly idealist philosophical interpretation of quantum mechanics put forth by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and their supporters. According to this bizarre conception, there is no such thing as an objective world until it is perceived (or “measured”) by someone. Heisenberg, for example, stated that “Some physicists would prefer to come back to the idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist independently of whether we observe them. This however is impossible.” Another physicist, David Mermin of Cornell University, under the spell of the Copenhagen Interpretation even went so far as to claim: “We now know that the moon is demonstrably not there when nobody looks.” It is difficult to believe that anyone can seriously put forward such nonsense!
In response to this sort of foolishness, Albert Einstein commented: “The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science.” And he added, more specifically, that “The Heisenberg-Bohr tranquilizing philosophy—or religion?—is so delicately contrived that, for the time being, it provides a gentle pillow for the true believer from which he cannot very easily be aroused. So let him lie there.” [All these quotations are taken from Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics (1987).]
See also: COMPLEMENTARITY, SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT
[To be added... ]
CORPORATION — As a “Person”
In 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that a corporation has some of the same legal rights as a person, a human being, has. Since then this absurd doctrine has been expanded by the courts as well as in actual practice to cover other legal rights of persons under the U.S. Constitution. At present this has reached the point where corporations now ridiculously claim to have the right of “free speech”, and thus supposedly cannot be prevented from spending millions of dollars to promote politicians who are in their pocket, nor from indoctrinating the public with reactionary ideas and opinions that suit them. Corporate capitalism already essentially controls the U.S. and the world, but this is not enough for them. They want to keep expanding their control and power until it is absolute, and the masses have no say whatsoever. Thus one liberal bourgeois constitutional scholar, Garrett Epps, after attending Supreme Court hearings in 2009, expressed the opinion that some Justices (such as John Roberts and Antonin Scalia) now seem to feel that corporations do not simply enjoy the same rights as persons, but rather that they actually enjoy greater rights than mere persons do!
CORRECTION [In bourgeois finance]
A substantial fall in a stock market, or other financial market, after a previous large run up in average prices. Often a fall of 10% in these circumstances is considered to be a “correction”. The general assumption of speculators is that this correction will soon reverse itself and the “bull” market will resume.
Unpaid labor which feudal serfs or peasants are forced to supply for whatever purposes a feudal landlord demands. The amount of such corvée labor required is most often a traditional arrangement (such as so many days/month).
A term of derision for fully consistent internationalists, used primarily by those (including Stalin) who seek to combine nationalism and Marxism.
[To be added... ]
COUNCIL FOR MUTUAL ECONOMIC AID (CMEA)
An intergovernmental council, known familiarly as Comecon, originally set up in January 1949 by the USSR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, to promote mutual trade and the coordination of the economic plans of the member countries. Even during the Stalin era the organization tended to serve the economic interests of the Soviet Union more so than any of the other member countries. (This was an aspect of the “great nation chauvinism” that Stalin was sometimes guilty of.) But in the revisionist period in the Soviet Union (mid-50s on) Comecon became more and more simply a means for the social-imperialists to exploit the other nominally socialist countries under their thumb. This occurred through bullied and unfair trade agreements, international planning decisions more favorable to the development of the Soviet Union than to the other countries, and so forth.
Albania joined CMEA in February 1949, East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) in 1950, Mongolia in 1962, Cuba in 1972 and Vietnam in 1978. Yugoslavia became an associate member in 1964. In the late 1950s North Korea and China acquired observer status, though after 1961 China no longer sent observers. After 1961 Albania also no longer participated. Romania weakened its connection to Comecon in 1973 and moved closer to the European Community.
Comecon was initially hailed by supporters of the Soviet Union as “the Russian Marshall Plan”. In its early days it did help to develop the economies of the Eastern European countries. Besides developing general goals for trade and technical assistance, Comecon organized joint scientific research and development.
In 1954 Comecon moved more in the direction of economic integration of the member countries through the coordination of the various five-year economic plans, and in 1955 production priorities were set for each country. Energy policies were also coordinated. In 1961 “Basic Principles” for the long-term development of member countries were drawn up. But Khrushchev’s proposals in 1962 for the creation of a single economic plan and single planning authority for all the countries was rejected by the other Comecon countries on the grounds that it was a major encroachment on their national sovereignty. Romania was especially outraged by the Soviet “suggestion” that it should specialize in agriculture instead of any all-round development of its economy.
In the Brezhnev era the Soviet social-imperialists further stepped up their efforts to integrate the Comecon economies under Soviet direction, but there was much resistance to this from all the countries except Bulgaria whose lacky rulers seemed happy with its assigned agricultural role.
In 1963 Comecon set up the International Bank for Economic Cooperation as an alternative to the IMF, and in 1970 the International Investment Bank to finance projects that were part of coordinated five-year plans, and as an alternative to the World Bank.
The Comecon countries agreed in 1970 to medium and long-term economic cooperation up to 1980, and a central planning bureau was set up in Moscow to direct this. In 1987 joint Comecon ventures between some productive enterprises and research institutes in the USSR and Eastern European countries were established. But the still crude forms of economic cooperation were illustrated by the fact that profits from these joint enterprises could be returned in the form of commodities because of the problems involved in currency negotiations. Overall, trade and economic cooperation and integration within Comecon declined during the Gorbachev period.
By 1989 the increasingly market-oriented ideology in all the Comecon countries led to many calls for less economic planning, and there no longer seemed much point to CMEA to the revisionists. In June 1991 CMEA was formally dissolved.
1. [In bourgeois society:] Opposition to social revolution, and defense of the oppressive and unjust status quo.
2.The replacement of one socioeconomic formation with another, lower one (or attempts to do so). This implies a return to an earlier, more oppressive form of society, and hence a change which is very much against the interests of the people. After every successful revolution the forces of counter-revolution must be contended with, and suppressed. (See: DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT)
See: COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MARXIST)
See: COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION
A (usually court-ordered) forced restructuring of a debt load which involves the reduction of the amount owed, in order to allow the debtor to at least be in the position to continue to pay back part of the debt. This happens most often in bankruptcy proceedings. The term arises from the fact that lenders view such reductions in the debts owed them as something that is being “crammed down” their throats!
Under present U.S. law (as of November 2009) if a person files for “Chapter 13 bankruptcy” (a court-supervised, multi-year plan designed to provide at least partial payment of debts to the creditors), the judge can reduce the amount owed on credit cards, auto loans, student loans and even mortgages on second homes, but not on mortgages on an individual’s principal residence. At present there are once again proposals to change the law in order to allow cramdowns on these sorts of mortgages as well, as part of the desperate effort to resolve the financial crisis in the U.S. which first broke out in the sub-prime mortgage sphere in 2008. At present, banks are often rapidly forcing foreclosures, and then the sale of the house to someone else (even at a much lower price), in order to quickly recover as much of the bad loan as they can. If this change is made it might make it somewhat more difficult for the banks to do this, because a judge might cut the mortgage amount owed and allow the person in bankrupcy proceedings to keep their home (thus preventing the bank from selling it again).
CRASH OF 1929
The major stock market crash and financial crisis that broke out in the United States in the fall of 1929 and is generally viewed as the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Most bourgeois economists view this Crash and overall financial crisis, along with the inept handling of it by the Hoover Administration and the Federal Reserve, as the main causes of the Great Depression, which then spread through the entire world capitalist economy. This theory, however, is mostly nonsense. A recession was already developing in the U.S. economy by the spring of 1929, and it was the fundamental workings of the real capitalist economy that led to overproduction of capital, the massive debt bubble, the initial recession, the wild financial speculation, then the Crash, and finally the Depression. While it is true that financial crises such as the Crash of 1929 virtually always play a prominent role in capitalist economic crises, they are by no means the fundamental cause of them. Still, it is also true that a more rational response from the government (for example, via what is now called Keynesian deficit financing) might have somewhat mitigated or even postponed the Depression, at least for a while. But the bourgeoisie was trapped by its own ideology that proclaimed the capitalist system as self-regulating, and therefore was unable to respond with even limited effectiveness.
The religious doctrine that matter, energy, life, and the world in general, were created by God out of nothing. Among fundamentalist Christians this is assumed to have occurred as is described in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Of course this entire doctrine is totally unscientific.
The benefit granted someone by allowing them to buy goods or services without immediate payment, but requiring payment at some usually definite time in the future. Credit is essential to the functioning of capitalism for a variety of reasons; most fundamentally because the workers who produce all the goods to be sold are not themselves paid enough to buy them all back! Thus, if they are to buy the “excess goods” at all, they must be extended credit to do so. Of course, the repetition of this extention of credit, over and over again, creates a CREDIT BUBBLE (see below).
See also: CREDIT SYSTEM, LEVERAGE, DELEVERAGING
The expanding amount of credit outstanding, as those who will never be able to pay back all that they owe are granted more and more credit. Those borrowing money, or buying things on credit, always imagine that they will someday be able to pay it back. And those lending the money would not do so unless they expected to be paid eventually. But in a capitalist economy this is inherently impossible because of the extraction of surplus value from the workers, or—in other words—from the fact that the value of their wages is necessarily less than the value of the commodities they produce. But because things are going well for a certain period, the lenders and borrowers always jump to the conclusion that the good times will continue for ever. This is, alas, an illusion. All credit bubbles eventually burst, and this forms the heart (though not necessarily the initial phase) of a major financial crisis of the sort the world entered in 2008.
CREDIT CARD RECEIVABLES [Capitalist Finance]
The ownership right to receive the payments on outstanding credit card debt. While the credit card company itself makes the loan to the customer when he or she uses the credit card, that credit card company may sometimes turn around and sell the right to receive payment on that debt to a third party. They are especially apt to do this if too many of their customers are getting behind in their payments, and the risk of never being paid is increasing. The credit card company will of course have to sell this right to receive payment at a discount, and the company purchasing these “receivables” is gambling that it will be able to collect enough of this outstanding debt to be able to make a profit on the deal.
CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP (CDS)
[Capitalist finance:] An insurance contract that supposedly protects the holder against corporate defaults by paying him or her the face value of a loan, bond or security if the corporation issuing it fails to do so when it comes due. Buying a CDS therefore supposedly removes the risk from buying very speculative bonds and various kinds of otherwise extremely risky derivatives. However, the risk is really only removed if the insurance company issuing the CDS can itself be relied on. The 2008 failure of AIG (the American International Group), which was then the world’s largest insurance company and which had issued hundreds of billions of dollars of CDS contracts, shows that this assumption by financial speculators was not at all correct. Credit Default Swaps can themselves be traded and thus form yet another arena for speculation. By the end of 2007, just as the speculative bubble began to burst, more than $62 trillion in CDS’s had been issued, almost all of it in the previous 7 years. This shows the truly absurd level of speculative gambling in modern capitalism!
CREDIT RATING AGENCIES
Since capitalist companies and corporations cannot be trusted—even by other corporations—to be honest about their financial status, capitalism requires the existence of credit rating agencies to inform outsiders about just how great a risk it is to loan money to them. This is in the form of public credit ratings for the securities (e.g. bonds) that they issue, from say a top rating of AAA+ to a bottom rating of CCC-. (The precise rating system used varies from one agency to another.) However, under the current system in the U.S., it is most often the corporations being rated who pay the rating agencies! Thus there is an incentive for these agencies to give companies a higher rating than they should, and to be tardy in lowering their ratings when adverse developments occur. This partly explains how risky sub-prime mortgages which were chopped up and repackaged as Collateralized Debt Obligations managed to receive top-of-the-line AAA credit ratings! This foolishness even suckered in some of the financial corporations who issued these phony CDOs in the first place, and led to huge losses for investors and banks in the financial crisis that began in 2008!
There are also credit rating agencies that assign a rating to individual people, for the protection of the capitalist corporations who issue them loans. Of course in this case the agencies are by no means biased in favor of those they rate, and often make errors which unjustly lower the credit rating of ordinary people.
[Intro material to be added...]
“The credit system itself [arose] out of the difficulty of employing capital ‘productively’, i.e., ‘profitably’. The English, for example, are forced to lend their capital to other countries in order to create a market for their commodities. Over-production, the credit system, etc., are means by which capitalist production seeks to break through its own barriers and to produce over and above its own limits.” —Marx, TSV, 3:122.
A specialized type of bank operated as a cooperative and owned by its members. Credit unions only accept deposits from, and only make loans to, their own members. They are often set up by labor unions, professional organizations, and the like.
CRISES — ECONOMIC
An economic crisis is a serious interruption in the operation of the economy in a society. Before the capitalist era, the most common causes of such crises were general crop failures, wars and plagues (though after the “Black Death” in Europe there was a modest economic boom, since fewer people now owned the same amount of material wealth).
Besides these traditional sorts of economic crises, new types have appeared in the capitalist era. Marx notes that the sudden interruption of trade channels caused an economic crisis in England after the war of 1815. [See: Marx, TSV, 3:122] And in our own era it now appears that global warming and other devastation caused by the capitalist disregard for the environment may well result in a major long-term economic crisis (in addition to a general health and well-being crisis) during the 21st century.
But in capitalist society by far the most important and powerful type of economic crisis is usually the overproduction crisis, which can exist only under capitalism. This means overproduction by the capitalists of commodities relative to the actual market demand (and not in relation to what people actually need and want). There are mechanisms (such as the credit system and Keynesian deficit financing) which allow the capitalists to keep expanding production (beyond what the market would otherwise be) for a long while. In the process they hugely expand the amount of capital itself beyond what could otherwise be supported. This creates a tremendous economic house of cards which must periodically come tumbling down. (The “house of cards” metaphor seems doubly appropriate in the current crisis, since the collapse of the housing bubble was the fuse that ignited it!)
CRISES — FINANCIAL
See: FINANCIAL CRISES
CRISES — and MONOPOLY
See: MONOPOLY—AND CRISES
CRISES — OVERPRODUCTION
See: OVERPRODUCTION CRISES
CRISIS OF 1873
A significant financial crisis, one of the most serious of the 19th century, that marked the beginning of a prolonged period of economic weakness lasting about two decades.
CRISIS THEORIES (For Capitalist Economic Crises)
[To be added... ]
The name given by adherents of the “Frankfurt School” to their idealist and revisionist reinterpretation of Marxism.
CROCE, Benedetto [Pronounced: CROW-chay] (1866-1952)
Italian bourgeois philosopher of the neo-Hegelian school, historian, critic and politician. He developed his own metaphysical system along the lines of Hegel, but without the dialectical sophistication. His philosophy is that of absolute idealism. He also devoted much attention to aesthetics and art criticism, and had a strong influence on bourgeois aesthetics theory. He viewed art as an “intuitive cognition of the singular” as contrasted with logical reasoning as a rational process of “knowing the general”. In an idealist way he denied the physical reality of the work of art. (Cf. AESTHETIC OBJECT.) In ethics he tried to obscure the social roots and class nature of morality.
Politically Croce was a prominent liberal bourgeois ideologist, and member of the Italian government before Mussolini’s rise to power and after his fall. He was a determined opponent of Marxism and revolution as well as of Mussolini and Fascism. He wrote a short book, Historical Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx (1914) which is focused mostly against popularizers of Marx such as Antonio Labriola.
A number term in India and other south Asian countries which means 10 million. One crore equals 100 lakhs. Thus to say that the government spent $60 crores in an particular anti-revolutionary military campaign means that it spent $600 million.
Central Reserve Police Force. This is one of many government paramilitary forces seeking to destroy Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries) in India.
CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
[To be added... ]
Most people associate the term ‘cult’ with unorthodox or outrageous religious sects characterized by fanatical devotion to the doctrine and leadership of the sect and the refusal to even seriously entertain the possibility that anything the top leader might say could be mistaken. But there are also similar political cults. The key concept in political cults, too, is devotion, the devotion of the adherents to every single aspect of the doctrine of the cult and an unquestioning acceptance of whatever the top leader says.
Cult members are conditioned by powerful social pressures within the cult toward:
1) The belief that their top leader is an indispensable individual, and in effect, a savior not only for their group alone, but for their whole country and even for all humanity;
2) Inability to question any significant aspect of the doctrine of the group, unless and until the top leader makes a change in the official doctrine;
3) Frequent direct quotation of their leader, especially when asked by outsiders to explain the doctrines and ideas of their group;
4) Fear of publicly saying anything else; in other words, the fear of getting approved doctrine slightly “wrong”;
5) A tremendous reluctance to raise any disagreements or criticisms of the group (let alone of the top leader), because they will be harshly pounced on, and possibly ex-communicated, if they do;
6) A great reluctance to raise any new ideas of any kind, even if they don’t seem to go against current doctrine (because these ideas might be interpreted by the leadership that way);
7) A strong tendency to hide their own personal shortcomings and failures to successfully carry out the instructions of the group and its leader (because they similarly know they will be severely attacked if shortcomings and errors come to light). This is doubly the case because of the often extreme demands which are placed on the members;
8) A strong tendency toward sectarianism, and the strong beliefs that only their own leader and group can generate knowledge about the correct path forward; and even the subtle feeling that anyone outside the group is really sort of the enemy (even if they have never directly criticized the group);
9) A strong tendency toward monasticism, of making the group and its leader the entire focus of their whole life, and of restricting or cutting off even social relationships with other people and the masses (especially if they ever express any strong opinions the group disapproves of, and certainly if they ever express any major criticisms of the group or its leader whatsoever);
10) A tendency to nevertheless “burn out” and drop away after a number of years when the false predictions and expectations of the group continue to prove wrong time after time—especially if they are among the members of the group who get blamed for these failures. (The leader of the group rarely admits to any personal role in these failures of the group, except where it is absolutely unavoidable. Even then various excuses will be offered up.);
11) The tendency to seize upon the defections and departures of other members as an opportunity to blame them for the failures of the group, and to view them as having been hidden enemies who the group is now well rid of;
12) A tendency to still be infected with much of the outlook of the group and its leader even if they themselves do drop out or get forced out, and the tendency towards an inability to think how to organize and operate a political group in any other fundamentally different way. (Indoctrination runs deep.) Of course over time, and with the exposure to different ideas, more of the lingering indoctrination can be expected to fade away.
All of this is a total travesty of Marxism, and is in essence a religious approach to politics rather than a rational, democratic, and scientific approach. It is hard to understand how anyone could ever think otherwise.
A clear current example of a political cult in the United States is the Revolutionary Communist Party with its top leader Bob Avakian being the undeniable object of devotion by the members of the group, who are required to promote a “culture of appreciation, promotion, and popularization around the leadership, the body of work and the method and approach of Bob Avakian.” (See: AP&P).
CULT OF THE INDIVIDUAL or CULT OF PERSONALITY
See: PERSONALITY CULT
1. In the generic sense, any movement to revolutionize the superstructure of society, and especially the sphere of ideology, in a socialist country in order to bring the superstructure more into conformance with the new socialist economic base of society.
2. The shorter name often used for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which began in 1966 in Maoist China.
A largely pseudo-scientific and absurdly pretentious branch of modern academia focused on the study of bourgeois cultural phenomena. This sphere of “studies” arose originally out of non-revolutionary academic “Marxism” or “leftism”.
See also: “WESTERN MARXISM”
All the accumulated social consciousness (knowledge, opinions, abilities, etc.) of a society, especially in regard to its manner of living, and the material results of that social consciousness, which together characterize the historical stage attained in the development of the society. Culture may therefore be divided into intellectual culture, consisting of all social knowledge and consciousness, and material culture, consisting of all the material wealth and means of producing this wealth. Culture in both its intellectual and material forms undergoes constant development, and is transmitted from one generation to the next.
See also: SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS, IDEOLOGY
CURRENT ACCOUNT BALANCE
See: BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
CZECHOSLOVAK CORPS (In Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution)
An army of Czech and Slovak soldiers which under the influence of the Entente alliance in World War I revolted and, with the active participation by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, joined the attempt by the imperialist countries to suppress the Russian revolution.
“The Czechoslovak corps was formed in Russia prior to the Great October
Socialist Revolution from Czech and Slovak prisoners of war, soliders of the
Austro-Hungarian army, for waging war against Germany. After the establishment of Soviet
power, the Czechoslovak corps, by agreement with the Soviet Government, was to be sent
to France through Vladivostok. But the counter-revolutionary commanders of the corps,
perfidiously violating the agreement with the Government of the R.S.F.S.R. on the
surrender of weapons and deceiving the Czechoslovak soldiers, at the end of May 1918
began an armed insurrection at the bidding of the Entente. Acting in close co-ordination
with the whiteguards and kulaks, the Czechoslovak whiteguard corps seized Chelyabinsk,
Penza, Tomsk, Omsk, Samara and other towns. Nevertheless, a considerable section of the
Czechoslovak prisoners of war did not succumb to the anti-Soviet and nationalist
propaganda of the reactionary top stratum of the Corps; over 10,000 Czechs and Slovaks
fought in the ranks of the Red Army.
“In the autumn of 1918 the Volga area was freed by the Red Army. The revolt of the Czechoslovak corps was finally suppressed at the end of 1919 together with the rout of Kolchak.” —Note 2 in Lenin, SW 3.
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