Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- FA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fa-Fd.
- FE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fe-Fh.
- FI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fi-Fk.
- FL.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fl-Fn.
- FO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fo-Fq.
- FR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fr-Ft.
- FU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Fu-Fz.
Although this older “F.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.
British reformist “socialist” (social democratic) organization founded in 1884. “It was named after the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus who earned the nickname Cunctator (the Delayer) for his dilatory tactics and avoidance of a decisive encounter with Hannibal. Its members were chiefly bourgeois intellectuals, scientists, writers and politicians (the Webbs, Ramsay MacDonald, George Bernard Shaw and others). The Fabians rejected the need for the workers to wage the class struggle and rejected the socialist revolution, maintaining that transition from capitalism to socialism could be effected by petty reforms and gradual social evolution. Lenin called Fabianism ‘an extremely opportunist trend’ [LCW 13:358]. In 1900 the Fabian Society formed a part of the Labour Party. ‘Fabian socialism’ is a source of the Labour Party’s [original] ideology.” [Note 62 from LCW 28:502.]
Attacks on, and the cold-blooded murder of, revolutionaries under the false pretense that a battle between the two sides had occurred. This sort of death squad murder of revolutionaries happens in many countries, but the term arose in India where this has been especially common in recent decades.
FALLING RATE OF PROFIT THEORY (For Capitalist Economic Crises)
[To be added... ]
Family relationships have been modified down through the course of history by many factors, and especially by whichever form of socioeconomic system is dominant at the time. [More to be added... ]
“The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has thus reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. I: MECW 6:487.
[To be added...]
See also below, and GREAT LEAP FORWARD
FAMINES — Imperialist Caused
There have been a large number of famines around the world which were caused most fundamentally by foreign imperialism, sometimes even on purpose (for genocidal reasons).
One of the worst of these famines was that in British-ruled India in 1943-1945. This famine in Bengal and adjoining provinces killed well over a million people and perhaps as many as 6 or 7 million. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered that India continue to export grain to England even as the famine developed in Bengal, and later, at a time when the famine was quite severe, ordered that all shiploads of grain from Australia by-pass India and bring it to England—not because it was needed there at the time, but just for storage for possible future needs! [For more information about this particular famine see: “The Forgotten Holocaust—The 1943/44 Bengal Famine”, by Dr. Gideon Polya (2005), at http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspot.com/2005/07/forgotten-holocaust-194344-bengal.html , a BBC broadcast on the topic which included Dr. Polya and Economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen at http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/bengalfamine_programme.html, and the book Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, by Madhusree Mukerjee (2010).]
See also the book by Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts (2002) which shows that the British response to two late 19th century famines amounted to genocide, and notes that in some British labor camps people were fed fewer calories than even in the Nazi death camps.
A semi-official agency of the U.S. federal government engaged in issuing and guaranteeing home mortgages. Its formal name is the Federal National Mortgage Association, but it is almost universally referred to by its nickname “Fannie Mae”. Officially it is what is known as a “government-sponsored enterprise” (GSE) which was set up by Congress to support and stabilize the mortgage credit market, where mortgages and mortgage-related assets (such as CDO’s and similar derivatives) are bought and sold by financial capitalists. Fannie Mae is one of several officially independent GSE’s, but is in reality a federal agency, which props up the mortgage portion of the financial industry. It is one of the originators of the securitized bundles of mortgages which have played such a major role in the current financial crisis. Fannie Mae also purchases mortgage-related derivatives for its own account and issues its own bonds to pay for them. It is, in other words, a key pillar of the financial house of cards that constitutes the mortgage market.
Fannie Mae was first set up as a government agency in the Great Depression of the 1930s. In 1968 it was re-chartered by Congress as a GSE, but remained a quasi-official government agency because of its implicit government financial guarantee. The financial panic of 2008 showed that its economic “independence” was a pure fiction. In early September 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced the rescue package for Fannie Mae and its cousin Freddie Mac, and the formal takeover by the government of both companies.
“Fannie Mae is the nation’s largest mortgage buyer and a financial
juggernaut that affects the lives of tens of millions of home buyers. It was taken
over by the federal government on Sept. 8, 2008, along with Freddie Mac, as the two
mortgage giants struggled with deep losses and investors lost confidence in the pair.
“Many experts believe that Fannie and Freddie are likely to remain wards of the state for years.
“And, given the alarm in some quarters over the mounting budget deficit, these two giants and their vast obligations are likely to remain conveniently—and controversially—off the federal books. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have obligations of $3.9 trillion to investors who bought bundles of mortgages that the companies assembled.
“Lawmakers of both parties, eager to demonstrate their scorn for the companies, have called for their eradication. But few policy makers are willing to take aggressive steps that might weaken the housing market. On Dec. 24, 2009, the White House quietly disclosed that it had, in effect, given the companies a blank check by making their federal credit line unlimited; the ceiling had been $400 billion.” —From the New York Times website.
A classic book, by William Hinton, about the course of social revolution in the Chinese village of Long Bow in Lucheng County, Shansi Province. It describes in careful detail the efforts, often successful, sometimes not so, of the local members of the Communist Party of China to mobilize the masses in this village to make revolution. It often demonstrates the leadership method of the mass line in practice.
“Every revolution creates new words. The Chinese Revolution created a whole new vocabulary. A most important word in this vocabulary was fanshen. Literally, it means ‘to turn the body,’ or ‘to turn over.’ To China’s hundreds of millions of landless and land-poor peasants it meant to stand up, to throw off the landlord yoke, to gain land, stock, implements, and houses. But it meant much more than this. It meant to throw off superstition and study science, to abolish ‘word blindness’ and learn to read, to cease considering women as chattles and establish equality between the sexes, to do away with appointed village magistrates and replace them with elected councils. It meant to enter a new world. That is why this book is called Fanshen. It is the story of how the peasants of Long Bow Village built a new world.” —William Hinton, on the first page of his great book.
“This is a very important book for revolutionary communists to read. It is what first opened up my eyes as to what communists are trying to do, and how they are trying to go about doing it.” —Scott Harrison
[To be added...]
See also: RURAL LABORER
The form of capitalist society in which the bourgeoisie rules by open, terroristic violence against the people, as opposed to bourgeois democracy. As an extreme form of bourgeois nationalist rule, fascism often also includes rabid forms of racism, often to the point of genocide. The most vicious and notorious example was Nazi Germany (1933-1945).
For a much more thorough discussion of fascism see my 19-page essay, “A Short Introduction to the MLM Conception of Fascism”: PDF Version [335 KB]; MS Word Version [122 KB]. —Scott H.
The view that one cannot choose between alternative actions, or that one’s choice is “predetermined” (and hence not really genuine). Often confused with determinism.
See also: COMPATIBILISM
Brazilian term for the horribly crowded and miserable slum districts in major cities that are constructed by the poor and homeless themselves out of whatever pieces of discarded junk materials that are available. As of 2010 there are more than 1 million people living in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, more than one of every six people in the city.
See: FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
The bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia which overthrew the Tsar. This actually occurred starting with a demonstration in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, 1917, but Russia was still using the old church calendar which gave the month as February. [More to be added... ]
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION (FDIC)
An agency of the U.S. federal government which insures the deposits of customers of member banks (those commercial banks regulated by the federal government). The FDIC was created in 1934, during the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Originally it insured deposits in each account only up to a maximum of $2,500. Over the years this limit was raised, and in the financial panic of 2008 it was further raised from $100,000 to $250,000 per account. The goal of this program is not so much to protect depositors as it is to protect the banks themselves (and their owners). During financial crises people tend to engage in “bank runs”—to suddenly pull their money out of any bank which they fear will collapse—unless they are sure they will not lose their money even if it does collapse.
FEDERAL FUNDS RATE
The interest rate the Federal Reserve sets for loans of federal funds from one commercial bank to another. Also known as the target rate. Generally the federal funds rate is about the same as the discount rate, but usually slightly lower.
FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION
See: FANNIE MAE
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
The central bank of the United States, which was established in 1913 in response to the very serious financial crisis in the Panic of 1907. There are 12 Regional Federal Reserve Banks, and a Board of Governors who control the whole system. The chairman and members of the Board of Governors are appointed by the U.S. President. The chairman of the Federal Reserve is often considered to be the most powerful person in the world after the U.S. President. The current chairman is Ben Bernanke.
The “Fed” (as it is often called for short) intervenes in the open financial markets via its New York Federal Reserve Bank, and controls the U.S. banking system partly in this way. Other means it uses include adjusting the bank discount rate (the rate the Fed charges commercial banks for short-term loans) and establishing various regulations to directly control the behavior of financial institutions. The Federal Reserve is charged by Congress with regulating the money supply, controlling inflation and interest rates, and generally managing the financial aspects of the national economy. While it can often control the economy to some extent, ultimately the economic contradictions of capitalism inevitably get out of their control, as with the current financial/economic crisis that first became so serious in the fall of 2008.
See also: GREENSPAN, Alan, TARGET RATE
FEDERAL RESERVE BALANCE SHEET
The financial assets owned by the Federal Reserve System (see above). Since the Fed buys these assets simply by creating money out of thin air (in effect just printing it), this is also a measure of how much money the Fed is creating and pushing into the economy via the banks and other financial institutions. Expanding its “balance sheet” in this way is also known as quantitative easing, and is in effect a way of expanding the currency which eventually results in rapid inflation (unless that money can be quickly pulled out of the economy again without causing a new financial collapse).
In the graph at the right it is apparent that the Fed has drastically increased its balance sheet since the current economic crisis qualitatively worsened in late 2008. Note that besides their holdings of nearly a trillion dollars in U.S. Treasury bonds, the Fed has also bought up well over a trillion dollars in securitized mortgages in an attempt to prop up the desperately sick housing market. This has pushed the total level up to about $2.3 trillion. As of Nov. 1, 2010, with the U.S. economy still in very serious trouble with persistent high unemployment, a new round of “quantitative easing” is about to get underway, which is planned to increase the Fed’s balance sheet by at least another $600 billion dollars.
Someone who sympathizes with and supports the ideals and program of an organized group (such as a Communist party), but who is not a member or regular participant in the work of the group.
“Fellow traveler” is the English translation of a term (poputchik) originally coined by Trotsky in 1925 to refer to the vacillating intellectual supporters of the revolution within the young Soviet Union. When the U.S.S.R. later stabilized, the term poputchik was no longer used. However, the English term fellow traveler was commonly used in the West during the mid-20th century, in later years most often by reactionaries, to refer to those sympathetic to the Communist cause or to the Soviet Union, but who were not themselves members of the Communist party. The term is seldom used within the American revolutionary movement today.
There are many disputes as to what feminism is, including among those of us—women and men—who consider ourselves to be feminists. But a good place to start is with the comment by Cheris Krakamae & Paula Treichler that “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Revolutionary Marxism, from Marx and Engels on, has always been strongly in favor of women’s rights, and for the equality of treatment and opportunity of the two sexes.
[More to be added.]
FENG YU-LAN (Or: Feng Youlan, Fung Yu-lan, Fung Yu-lin) (1895-1990)
“[He] is well known in the West for his classic two-volume History of Chinese Philosophy. He is an international figure, graduated from Peking and Columbia universities, who has taught at the universities of Hawaii and Pennsylvania. After the establishment of the People’s Republic, Fung, a professor at Peking University, participated enthusiastically in Maoist efforts at political and ideological reform, engaging in self-criticism to root out his own bourgeois ideas and to set a good example to other Chinese intellectuals. Eventually he became an ardent supporter of Mao Tse-tung thought and China’s leading critic of Confucius during the anti-Confucian campaign during the early 1970s. At this time he was an intellectual consultant to Mao’s wife, Chiang Ch’ing, and her friends, the group that later came to be called the ‘gang of four.’ Shortly after Mao’s death in 1976, Chiang and her group fell from power and were publicly disgraced, a disgrace in which Fung shared, bringing to a humiliating close a brilliant philosophical career.” —John M. Koller, Oriental Philosophies, 2nd ed., (Scribner, 1985), p. 338.
1. [In religion:] The veneration of objects because of their supposed magical or supernatural powers, such as the imagined power of the bones of dead “saints” to heal diseases in those who touch them.
2. [In bourgeois economics:] The standard notion that the value (exchange value) of a commodity is something mystically intrinsic to it, as opposed to the Marxist view that value is a function of the socially necessary labor time necessary to produce the commodity.
A term used for the last few centuries to describe the socioeconomic formation which existed in Europe during the Middle Ages, and also similar sorts of societies in Asia and elsewhere which lasted into the 20th century and which still exist in some countries today (though mixed with capitalism). Under feudalism there are two main social classes, the serfs or peasantry, and the aristocracy or landlord class. The landlords own the land which the serfs or peasants farm on individual small plots, usually on a family basis. A certain proportion of the agricultural output which the peasants produce then automatically “belongs” to the landlord. (The landlords don’t buy it from the peasants; they just take it.) In addition, in most feudal societies a landlord had the right to the labor of “his” peasants for a certain number of days per year. This is called corvée labor. Peasants were also drafted into armies controlled by the landlord ruling class. Traditionally, the serfs or peasants were tied to the land and were not allowed to move elsewhere without the permission of the landlord (which was seldom granted). In short, the feudal landlords were the ruling class, and the peasants were an oppressed and exploited class, usually left with barely enough to survive on. Feudalism was in fact only a modified form of slavery. (The same, of course, is true of capitalism, which is often appropriately called the system of wage slavery.)
FEUDALISM — Origin Of
In Europe feudalism began on a large scale in the 5th century C.E. following the disintegration of the slave system. In certain areas (such as eastern Slavic Europe) it arose directly from the disintegration of primitive communal society, without any intervening period of chattel slavery. [More to be added... ]
FEUERBACH, Ludwig [Pronounced: LOOD-vig FOY-er-bach] (1804-72)
German materialist philosopher and atheist who strongly impacted a generation of thinkers who had been educated in Hegel’s philosophical idealism, including the Young Hegelians and Marx and Engels in their youth. He was an important link between Hegel and Marxist historical materialism. Feuerbach was removed from teaching at Erlangen University in 1830 because of his atheist views.
His opposition to religion originally took the form of a struggle against Hegel’s idealism, and one of Feuerbach’s contributions to modern thought was in emphasizing the connection between religion and philosophical idealism. His overall contribution to philosophy was his strong defense of materialism.
However, Feuerbach, in throwing out Hegel’s idealism, also tossed out (or failed to fully appreciate) Hegel’s dialectical method. Among other things, this may have helped lead him in the direction of radical empiricism (or sensationalism), which ironically was a step back toward idealism in its Kantian form.
Politically Feuerbach was a liberal democrat. Late in life Feuerbach did join the Social Democratic Party of Germany, but he never became a Marxist. He spent his later years living in the countryside.
Among his more important works were “Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy” (1839), The Essence of Christianity (1841), Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (1843), and The Essence of Religion (1846). However, for us Marxists it is not so much Feuerbach’s own books which deserve our attention, but rather the much more important comments by Marx and Engels on Feuerbach. These include Marx’s brief but amazingly profound “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845), and Engels’s book Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1886).
Money, usually paper money, which has no inherent value (unlike rare metals such as gold), but which governments have issued to be used as the medium of exchange and a store of value. The continued value of fiat money depends entirely on the trustworthiness of the government not to “unduly” expand the supply (i.e., not to print too much of it), and the willingness of the public to accept it in exchange for goods and services.
See also: GOLD STANDARD
FICTE, Johann Gottlieb (1762-1814)
Prominent German subjective idealist philosopher and follower of Kant. For one of the most ridiculous statements in philosophy ever made, see his comment quoted in the entry on LYING.
The value (“capitalized value”) of securities, the ownership of which brings income which comes ultimately from the surplus value extracted from the workers during the employment of real (or productive) capital in the capitalist production process. Thus the market value of stocks, bonds, and all sorts of derivatives is one major form of ficititious capital. The word ‘fictitious’ is meant only to show that this is not the same as what is being talked about with real or operational capital in the actual production process.
Fictitious capital does not have any intrinsic value and does not perform any function in the current process of capital reproduction. In a severe financial crisis the value of all the stocks listed on the stock markets may fall in half, which might represent a loss of many trillions of dollars to the owners of these stocks. But this is a destruction of fictitious capital, and not the destruction of real factories, machinery and other productive wealth. Over time the amount of fictitious capital grows much faster than the amount of real productive capital. This is part of what is meant by the financialization of modern capitalism.
“The formation of fictitious capital is known as capitalization. Any regular periodic income can be capitalized by reckoning it up, on the basis of the average rate of interest, as the sum that a capital lent out at this interest rate would yield. For example, if the annual income in question is £100 and the rate of interest 5 per cent, then £100 is the annual interest on £2,000, and this £2,000 is then taken as the capital value of the legal ownership title to this annual £100. For the person who buys this ownership title, the annual £100 does actually represent the conversion of the capital he has invested into interest.” —Marx, Capital, vol. III, ch. 29. (Penguin ed., p. 597; International ed., p. 466.)
[In Aristotle’s philosophy:] The purpose, end, aim, or goal of something.
Aristotle defined 4 different kinds of “causes” which he thought most things must have. The first, the “material cause”, was the mere material composition of the thing, and the second, the “formal cause”, was just the form or shape that this material had to take on. (Weird things to call causes!) The third of these, the efficient cause, is the one that sounds most like what we normally mean by the “cause of something” today, namely how the thing is created or comes to be. But what Aristotle called the fourth type of cause, the final cause (or, in Greek, telos), is the aim or purpose of the thing. Thus the efficient cause of a table is the work of someone creating the table out of wood or other raw materials. And the final cause is the purpose of the labor (e.g., to create the table to put other objects on).
To most of us today there seems to be no real point in calling the purpose of something its “final cause”; why not just call it its purpose and be done with it?! But by calling this a different sort of “cause”, Aristotle was helping to convince himself that a purpose is something which most natural things must have. However, in reality, some things have a purpose, and other things are not the result of anyone’s purpose or goal. The chemical composition of the water molecule or the shape of the Andes mountain range are natural things, and were not the result of anyone’s goal or purpose. And even Aristotle did recognize the possibility of chaos, that some things arise from chance events and thus have no final cause.)
The notion of a “final cause” is therefore a teleological concept, and should really only exist where there was some genuine purpose or goal involved in the creation of the thing. But according to idealists like Aristotle, there is some “final cause” to all sorts of things that in reality merely evolved or otherwise naturally developed. Thus, according to him, the final cause of the existence of animals and plants (since he could think of no other) must be to serve the needs and purposes of human beings. Aristotle himself argued that a final cause can exist even when there is no intelligence or consciousness behind it. But why should animals and plants have come to exist for the benefit of human beings if there was no purposeful intelligence guiding the process—in other words a God? Religious people of course find such erroneous conclusions to their liking, and this is one of the important reasons that Thomas Aquinas and other theologians have enthusiastically embraced at least aspects of Aristotle’s thought.
See also: PURPOSE, TELEOLOGY
FINANCE CAPITAL or FINANCIAL CAPITAL
Monopoly industrial capital which has merged with monopoly bank capital, and which is generally dominated by the latter. The owners and controllers of this form of capital are known as the financial capitalists or the financial oligarchy.
FINANCE CAPITAL (Book by Hilferding)
An important book by Rudolf Hilferding, a semi-Marxist economist, published in 1910, which strongly influenced Marxist thought about the nature of capitalism in the imperialist era. In particular, Lenin made extensive use of the ideas in this book when he wrote his own very important work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage in Capitalism in 1916.
The full title of the original German edition of the book is Das Finanzkapital: Eine Studie über die jüngste Entwicklung des Kapitalismus, which was published in Vienna in 1910. An English translation did not appear until more than 70 years later: Finance Capital: A Study of the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development, edited by Tom Bottomore, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981).
Finance Capital put forward a number of ideas, many of them new and correct, but also some quite incorrect ideas and conceptions. Hilferding pointed out that banks had shifted their credit practices as industrial companies became larger, in the direction of much bigger and more long-term loans, which in turn gave them a deeper interest in the long-term prospects and management of the industrial corporations they loaned to, instead of just a simple concern as to whether a short-term loan would be repaid or not. Banks became more like silent partners in the industrial corporations, and thus also tended to receive a greater share of the surplus value which the corporations extracted from their workers. He said that the typical capitalist was no longer the owner/manager of a company, but rather a shareholder in a corporation, and explained this change as being a necessary consequence of the growth of giant companies into monopolies or semi-monopolies. And these shareholders, he said, have become in effect money capitalists, not entrepreneurs.
The book shows how the competitive and pluralistic pre-monopoly form of “liberal capitalism” had been transformed into monopoly capitalism controlled by “finance capital”, a merger of bank and industrial capital. But Hilferding tends to generalize too much on the precise way that had occurred in Germany. He puts too much emphasis on the role of cartels and trusts, and doesn’t forsee that these might be broken up to a considerable degree through a combination of international conflict (such as came to a head just a few years later in World War I) and anti-trust laws (even if they have had only a partial and fairly weak effect). Hilferding did foresee the more total domination and centralized direction of the state by this new form of capitalism, however.
One of the more serious weaknesses in Finance Capital, and one that has been far too influential, is the falling rate of profits theory of capitalist economic crises that Hilferding presents. This comes, of course, originally from Capital, where it was one of three major crisis theories put forward by Marx. But this particular theory is incorrect, and Hilferding’s championing of it has done a lot of additional harm in Marxist political economy. For one thing, it led him to modify his theory of finance capitalism a few years later by putting forth the totally erroneous notion that an “organized capitalism” is possible, based on national and international cartels and monopoly stabilization of profits, which could supposedly prevent the development of economic crises entirely! Hilferding also thought that turning capitalism into socialism had become primarily a matter of just nationalizing the big trusts and cartels. This showed the essential bourgeois core of his understanding of just what socialism is all about.
“In 1910, there appeared in Vienna the work of the Austrian Marxist, Rudolf Hilferding, Finance Capital (Russian edition, Moscow, 1912). In spite of the mistake the author makes on the theory of money, and in spite of a certain inclination on his part to reconcile Marxism with opportunism, this work gives a very valuable theoretical analysis of ‘the latest phase of capitalist development’, as the subtitle runs.” —Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (January-June 1916), LCW 22:195.
“Finance Capital has proved to be the most influential text
in the entire history of Marxian political economy, only excepting Capital
itself. It is difficult to think of any significant theme in Lenin’s theory of
imperialism, for example, that does not feature, usually prominently, in Finance
Capital. There is the central concept of finance capital, seen as the ‘highest
stage’ of capitalist development; the growth of monopoly in place of free competition;
the repudiation of free trade by the capitalists and their increasing reliance on
tariffs to bolster their cartels; the emphasis on capital exports and colonization,
together with the mounting international tension that they generate; and finally the
apocalyptic tone of Hilferding’s conclusion. All these can be found, in simpler
language and considerably less depth, in Lenin’s Imperialism.” —M.C. Howard
& J.E. King, A History of Marxian Economics: Volume I, 1883-1929 (Princeton
University Press, 1989), p. 100.
[It is probably true that Hilferding’s book has been the most influential single book on Marxist political economy other than Capital itself. But this has also had plenty of quite bad results, as well as some good ones! For example, it certainly would have been much better if Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value had been more influential than Finance Capital in the areas where they disagree (such as on the central cause for capitalist economic crises)! And while it is true that most of the major themes in Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism were prefigured in Hobson’s Imperialism and Hilferding’s Finance Capital, Lenin never claimed otherwise. In fact he properly credits both authors and both books. (It is interesting that Hilferding does not credit Hobson, who came before him!) Moreover, Lenin subtitles his pamphlet as “A Popular Introduction”, so it is hardly surprising that it does not go into the issues as thoroughly as Hilferding does in his much longer book. Moreover, besides the good and correct things in it, Hilferding’s book also puts forward a number of wrong ideas, a number of which Lenin strongly criticizes. Finally, in the years after Finance Capital was published, Hilferding retracts and abandons some of his correct ideas in it, and instead promotes some very wrong notions in their place, such as his theory of “organized capitalism” which can supposedly avoid economic crises, which he began putting forward in 1915. —S.H.]
“Thus Finance Capital changed the landscape of Marxian economics.... Hilferding provided not only new concepts, new analyses, and a new vocabulary, but an attempted synthesis. Nevertheless the defects of the book are readily apparent. He achieved neither a single coherent account of economic crises nor a clear explanation of their relationship with the longer-term contradictions of advanced capitalism. He had neither a theory of economic breakdown nor a refutation; although the germ of his subsequent concept of a largely crisis-free ‘organized capitalism’ can be found in Finance Capital ... the book contains no unequivocal prognoses. Hilferding’s treatment of capital exports is also imprecise.” —M.C. Howard & J.E. King, ibid.
The form of capitalism in the imperialist era characterized by the overwhelming dominance in the economy of giant banks and financial institutions, and the financialization of the economy in general. The term finance capitalism is used, rather than capitalist-imperialism or monopoly capitalism, when it is desired to emphasize the financial aspects of monopoly capitalism.
There have been two main bursts in the expansion of finance capitalism (and globalization):
1) the period in the late 1800s up until World War I; and
2) the period from roughly the 1980s up until the financial crisis broke out in 2008.
The first of these bursts of financialization correspondended to, and was an important part of, the advent of capitalist-imperialism. After World War I finance capitalism further developed a bit in fits and starts during the 1920s, but then suffered a major breakdown in the Great Depression of the 1930s. With the tremendous destruction of capital during World War II, the stage was set for a new quarter-century capitalist boom that initially did not require any further qualitative exaggeration of financialization in the world capitalist economy. (This period was, however, still part of the capitalist-imperialist epoch dominated by finance capital.) But as the post-World War II boom petered out in the 1970s, the world capitalist-imperialist system began to rely more and more on a combination of neoliberalism and a renewed burst of qualitative expansion of the financial aspects of the economy. This meant the huge further growth of debt, and rampant speculation in that debt, that finally began to collapse in a major way in 2007-2008.
Until capitalism is overthrown worldwide, its specific form as finance capitalism will continue to exist, even during periods of severe crisis and depression.
“Translated into ordinary human language this means that the development of capitalism has arrived at a stage when, although commodity production still ‘reigns’ and continues to be regarded as the basis of economic life, it has in reality been undermined and the bulk of the profits go to the ‘geniuses’ of financial manipulation. At the basis of these manipulations and swindles lies socialized production; but the immense progress of mankind, which achieved this socialization, goes to benefit ... the speculators.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1916), LCW 22:206-7.
[Capitalist finance:] Bonds, shares of stock, or other certificates or documents which constitute a legal claim on actual material wealth. But material wealth itself, such as real estate, gold or other commodities, etc., is not included in the category of “financial assets”.
See also: GLOBAL FINANCIAL ASSETS
[To be added...]
See also chart below, and: PANICS
|U.S. FINANCIAL CRISES, 1982-2009|
Brazil debt crisis
|Federal Reserve (“Fed”) and Treasury Dept. relief |
package to avoid domino effect on U.S. banks
|1984||Continental Illinois Bank aid||$4 billion Fed, Treasury, and FDIC rescue package|
|Late 1980s||Discount Window bailouts||Fed provided loans to 350 weak banks that later failed, |
giving big depositors time to exit.
|1987||Post-stock market dive rescue||Massive liquidity provide by Fed, and rumors of Fed |
clandestine involvement in futures market.
|1989-92||S&L bailout||U.S. spent $250 billion to bail out hundreds of Savings |
& Loans which had been mismanaged into insolvency.
|1990-92||Citibank and Bank of New
England (BEN) bailouts
|$4 billion to BEN, then government help in arranging |
for Saudi infusion for Citibank.
|1994-95||Mexican peso rescue||Treasury helped support the peso to backstop U.S. |
investors in high-yield (i.e., risky!) Mexican debt.
|1997||Asian currency bailout||U.S. government pushed IMF to rescue embattled East Asian |
currencies to save American and other foreign lenders.
|Fed chairman Greenspan helped arrange bailout for shaky hedge |
fund with high-powered domestic and international connections.
|1999||Y2K fears (due to computer
date coding problems)
|Liquidity pumped out by the Fed to ease Y2K concerns |
helped fuel final NASDAQ stock market bubble.
|2001-5||Post-stock market crash
|Fed cut U.S. interest rates to 46-year lows to protect the U.S. |
“FIRE” (financial, insurance and real estate) sector and their assets.
|2007||SIV and subprime
|Treasury Secretary Paulson proposed super-SIV fund to rescue top |
banks and and negotiated subprime mortgage relief mechanism.
|2008-09||Massive bailouts of
banks, insurance &
|The near collapse of the entire U.S. financial system which |
led to unprecedented trillions of dollars of bailouts, zero
interest rates, flooding the economy with money, a very large
stimulus plan—and which still led to the worse economic crisis
since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
[Based on figure 2.7 in Kevin Phillips, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, |
Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2008)]
FINANCIAL LITERACY (or ILLITERACY)
See: LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK
The very top echelon of the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie representing finance capital, which in the imperialist era includes not only the owners and top managers of banks and financial institutions, but also those who own or control the biggest industrial corporations. The financial oligarchy controls not only the economy but also pretty much dominates, controls, or a minimum very strongly influences the governments of imperialist countries. This is the core of the modern capitalist ruling class.
FINANCIAL SECTOR OF THE ECONOMY
The portion of an economy which consists of banking, credit cards, auto loans, insurance, the management of pension funds, stock brokerages, and so forth. The issuance of mortgages, and other forms of real estate speculation such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), etc., is also a major and ever larger part of the financial sector, though the actual construction of buildings is in a separate category. Sometimes the term “FIRE” is used for the overall financial sector of the economy; it is short for “Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate”.
Over time in the development of capitalism, especially in the modern capitalist-imperialist era, this sector has been expanding rapidly, while manufacturing and other sectors decline relatively. This is part of what is meant by the financialization of the economy (see below), and shows how capitalism has continued to grow ever more parasitic.
It is true, however, that in times of crisis (such as the present) the overall trend for the financial sector to relatively increase as a proportion of the whole economy, and also in its share of total profits, can be reversed. According to one recent bourgeois definition of the U.S. financial sector (which actually somewhat understates its extent) a record high percentage of all profits (41.7%) which came to that sector occurred in the one-year period ending on Sept. 30, 2002. This had fallen to 29.3% of all corporate profits by the one-year period ending on March 31, 2011. [“The Incredible Shrinking Financial Sector”, Business Week, June 13-19, 2011, p. 45.]
The chart at the right shows how the makeup of the U.S. financial sector itself has changed in recent decades. ‘GSE’ stands for “Government-Sponsored Enterprise” (i.e., a quasi-government corporation, such as Fanny Mae). Note how GSEs have become more and more important within the financial sphere as housing bubbles have been built up to enormous levels. The government itself is becoming an ever larger component of the financial sector of the U.S. economy, without even considering its massive bailouts and supports for the giant banks and other “private” financial institutions.
FINANCIALIZATION (Of the Economy)
The qualitative growth of the FINANCIAL SECTOR (see above) of a capitalist economy, which has been a major feature of capitalism in the capitalist-imperialist (or monopoly capitalist) era. Over time the financial sector becomes an ever larger part of the overall economy (in terms of GDP, employment, etc.), and becomes an ever larger source of profit (which it extracts in a totally parasitic manner from the rest of the economy). (This overall trend, however, can be reversed in times of acute crisis.) Moreover, a major feature of this financialization, is the ever closer de facto merger of financial capital with the state—the agencies of the government (such as, in the U.S., the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve System, numerous other federal agencies, the large number of gigantic GSEs, and so forth.) This aspect of the overall trend is actually accentuated in times of acute crisis.
See also: FINANCE CAPITALISM, FICTITIOUS CAPITAL
“Over the past generation—ever since the banking deregulation of the Reagan years—the U.S. economy has been ‘financialized.’ The business of moving money around, of slicing, dicing and repackaging financial claims, has soared in importance compared with the actual production of useful stuff. The sector officially labeled ‘securities, commodity contracts and investments’ has grown especially fast, from only 0.3 percent of G.D.P. in the late 1970s to 1.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2007.” —Paul Krugman, a liberal bourgeois economist, “The Joy of Sachs”, The New York Times, July 17, 2009. [Krugman fails to note: 1) that the securities sector he mentions is only one small part of the entire financial sector; and 2) that this financialization of the economy has all along been a prominent feature of capitalism in the imperialist era, as Lenin noted as far back as 1916! But it is true that this financialization has been carried to even more absurd lengths during the last few decades. —S.H.]
“The money that’s made from manufacturing stuff is a pittance in comparison to the amount of money made from shuffling money around. Forty-four percent of all corporate profits in the U.S. come from the financial sector compared with only 10% from the manufacturing sector.” —Raymond Dalio, Bridgewater Associates, 2004. [Quoted in Kevin Phillips, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2008).
“FIRE” [Contemporary U.S. Capitalism]
This is an abbreviation for the “Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate” sectors of the economy, or what we Marxists generally consider to be the same as the overall financial sector.
The name by which the International Workingmen’s Association came to be called after its termination in 1976, and once later Internationals came into existence for a time.
See also: SECOND INTERNATIONAL, COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
[In bourgeois economics:] The use of government expenditures, and budget deficits or surpluses, in an attempt to direct and control the economy. In practice this mostly means deciding whether or not to increase government deficits, and by how much. Thus at the present time (early 2009) the U.S. government is projecting a mostly purposeful and extraordinarily massive federal budget deficit of nearly $2 trillion dollars (!) for this fiscal year alone, in an attempt to resolve the current economic crisis. (Worse yet, this huge deficit will have only a moderate and relatively short-term mitigating effect on the current economic crisis.)
See also: KEYNESIAN DEFICITS.
The same thing as Keynesian deficits.
See also: FISCAL POLICY above.
The annual budget and accounting period for an enterprise or country which may differ from the calendar year. Thus the fiscal year for the U.S. government begins on October 1st and ends on the following September 30th.
Soldiers in the People’s Liberation Army in China during the Mao era who excelled in political and ideological work, in the “three-eight” working style, in military technique, in fulfilling combat missions, and in keeping fit.
“FIVE-POINT PRINCIPLE OF PUTTING POLITICS IN COMMAND”
A set of guidelines for how to go about putting “politics in command” which was instituted within the People’s Liberation Army in China during the early GPCR period (when Lin Biao was in command):
“The five-point principle of putting politics in command is: a) creatively study and apply Chairman Mao’s works and, in particular, make the utmost effort to apply them; regard Chairman Mao’s works as the highest instructions on all aspects of the work of the army; b) persist in the ‘four-firsts’ and, in particular, make great efforts to grasp living ideas; c) leading cadres must go to the basic units, give energetic leadership to the campaign to produce ‘four-good’ companies, guarantee that the basic units do their jobs effectively and at the same time that a good style of leadership by the cadres is fostered; d) boldly promote really outstanding commanders and fighters to key posts of responsibility; and e) train hard and master the finest techniques and close-range and night fighting tactics.” —From a short glossary accompanying an article in Peking Review, vol. 10, #3, Jan. 13, 1967, p. 10.
FIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESSORS TO THE REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE OF THE PROLETARIAT
This was a term developed in Maoist China, and strongly emphasized during the years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It referred to the following points which must be true of revolutionary successors:
“They must be genuine Marxist-Leninists and not revisionists like
Khrushchov wearing the cloak of Marxism-Leninism.
“They must be revolutionaries who wholeheartedly serve the overwhelming majority of the people of China and the whole world, and must not be like Khrushchov who serves both the interests of the handful of members of the privileged bourgeois statum in his own country and those of foreign imperialism and reaction.
“They must be proletarian statesmen capable of uniting and working together with the overwhelming majority. Not only must they unite with those who agree with them, they must also be good at uniting with those who disagree and even with those who formerly opposed them and have since been proved wrong in practice. But they must especially watch out for careerists and conspirators like Khrushchov and prevent such bad elements from usurping the leadership of the Party and the state at any level.
“They must be models in applying the Party’s democratic centralism, must master the method of leadership based on the principle of ‘from the masses, to the masses,’ and must cultivate a democratic style and be good at listening to the masses. They must not be despotic like Khrushchov and violate the Party’s democratic centralism, make surprise attacks on comrades or act arbitrarily and dictatorially.
“They must be modest and prudent and guard against arrogance and impetuosity; they must be imbued with the spirit of self-criticism and have the courage to correct mistakes and shortcomings in their work. They must never cover up their errors like Khrushchov, and claim all the credit for themselves and shift all the blame on others.” —From a short glossary in Peking Review, vol. 10, #3, January 13, 1967, p. 10.
[Capitalist finance:] A recent type of sneaky stock trading by brokerage firms on Wall Street which has the two following characteristics:
1) The brokerage firm secretly monitors for its own benefit the buying and selling of stocks by its customers, and if the orders are substantial (and thus might affect the price of the stock), makes purchases or sales for its own account as well. (And sometimes also sells a 30 milli-second sneak preview to other speculators.); and
2) The use of very high speed computers to make its own purchases and sales of stock so that its own trading will occur before that of its customers.
This is yet another form of thievery by the financial capitalists, though in this case it involves cheating other financial speculators. Apparently flash trading is currently legal. (As of August 2009 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is considering making flash trading against its rules, though it is far from clear how they will be able to enforce such new rules.)
FOCO THEORY (or FOCOISM, FOCALISM, FOQUISMO, etc.)
A strategy for revolution associated with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and formalized by Che and the radical French writer Régis Debray. According to this theory it is not necessary to wait until conditions are right to launch either an insurrection or else a people’s war (depending on the nature of the country). Instead, at least in oppressed Third World countries, a dedicated band of revolutionaries can launch very small-scale, roving semi-guerrilla warfare at any time, which will supposedly serve as a focus (Spanish: foco) and inspiration for the rapid growth of more general guerrilla warfare and/or at some relatively early time a general uprising capable of seizing political power. The theory is that these paramilitary roving bands can themselves create the necessary conditions for revolution through their vanguard actions and moral example.
Unlike genuine people’s war, the foco theory is based on the assumption that a band of heroes can create a revolution, and that the mere existence of the foco makes it a vanguard without any necessity to merge deeply with the masses, forge close ties with them, participate seriously in their own struggles, and actually lead the masses in their own struggles. Foco theory, or focoism, is therefore a strongly elitist theory of revolution.
The origin of the foco theory lies in an idealist generalization of the experiences of Che and Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution. However, given the stategy followed by Castro, the success of that revolution was pretty much a lucky accident. This was at the time when there was already mass disgruntlement on the verge of boiling over against the Batista dictatorship. In other words, while the foco theory says it is not necessary for conditions to be particularly ripe for revolution, in Cuba itself they actually were. This circumstance also led to tremendous demoralization and ineffectiveness in Batista’s army, which almost totally fell apart after Castro’s small guerrilla force of a few hundred men took over a similarly small Cuban Army garrison of 250 men near the city of Santa Clara in December 1958 (the Battle of Yaguajay).
Attempts to apply the foco strategy in other countries have always failed dismally. In Africa Laurent-Désiré Kabila, with the direct help of Che, attempted it with very dismal results in the Congo. The most famous example is that led by Che himself in Bolivia, where his approach failed to connect up with the Bolivian peasants and led to his swift capture by the Bolivian Army with the help of the U.S. CIA. (The actual cold-blooded murder of Che after his capture is said to have been done personally by the notorious CIA agent Felix Rodriguez.) This humiliating failure led Cuba to back off on supporting similar focoist adventures for a number of years, and revolutionary groups around the world which had been inspired by the Cuban revolution began splitting into factions, and shifting more toward alternative strategies. In the mid-1970s, however, Cuba resumed its support for international revolution in a big way. In Africa it deployed its own troops and also supported the MPLA guerrillas in Angola. In the Caribbean area it resumed substantial support for groups following the foco strategy. In Argentina, the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), led by Roberto Santucho, tried the foco method in Tucumán Province, near Bolivia, but apparently without Cuban military or financial support. It was also rather easily defeated by around 3,000 Argentine soldiers, partly by using vicious state terror tactics against the small number of ERP supporters in nearby towns.
While the original foco strategy was designed for revolutionary efforts in rural areas in oppressed Third World countries, in the late 1960s the foco idea was also adapted for urban areas in some Third World countries and even in the United States! Needless to say, the results of this urban guerrilla warfare were even more ignominious defeats. (See: Venceremos Organization and Weather Underground organization.)
See also the articles “Guevara, Debray, and Armed Revisionism”, by Lenny Wolff (1985), at http://www.bannedthought.net/Cuba-Che/Guevara/Guevara-Debray-Wolff.pdf , and “Focoism vs. People’s War: Problems of Exaggerated Universalism”, by Mike Ely (2009).
[Capitalist finance:] The legal seizure of property by a creditor after the borrower fails to make the payments of interest and/or principal as agreed upon in the mortgage contract. The creditor (usually a bank or equivalent financial institution) will then normally proceed to sell the property to somebody else.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI)
The acquisition by corporations of one country of real assets in another country, such as factories, mines, or businesses. These assets may be acquired by building new factories, etc., or by simply purchasing existing factories and companies. FDI does not include the purchase of foreign securities (e.g., stocks and bonds), unless this amounts to buying a major or controlling influence in the foreign company that issues these securities. (A common guideline is that ownership of more than 10% of a foreign company is considered to be FDI.)
Foreign investment by imperialist transnational (or multinational) corporations is one of the main mechanisms by which neo-colonialism occurs in the Third World today. The foreign imperialist owners of these local factories, mines and plantations, exert enormous influence on both the local government and on their own imperialist government—which in turn often indirectly controls the foreign government when it comes to matters which it considers to be important.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES
Foreign currencies, gold, liquid investments in foreign countries (and thus easily transformed into foreign currencies via their sale), or balances held by the country with international institutions such as the IMF, any or all of which are held by the central bank of a country. Such reserves are needed in order to be sure that the country will be able to buy the goods it needs from foreign countries, even if its sale of its own goods to other countries is inadequate during some period to directly finance those purchases. Moreover, countries operating under the current world capitalist system may wish to buy or sell foreign currencies in order to adjust the relative worth of their own currency on international markets. For example, buying foreign currency with the country’s own currency is a way of keeping the value of its own currency low, thus promoting the sale of goods to foreigners and supporting its own manufacturers at the expense of foreign manufacturers.
FOSTER, John Bellamy (1953- )
The current editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review, and a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon at Eugene. He has adopted and further elaborated the blend of Marxism and Keynesianism characteristic of the Monthly Review School of political economy, which was originally developed by Paul Sweezy, Paul Baran, and Harry Magdoff. He has also given considerable attention to ecology and the environment.
Among Foster’s numerous books are: The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (1986), which is a good exposition and overview of the Monthly Review School’s conceptions, The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet (2009), and The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009).
FOUCAULT, Michel [Pronounced: mish-shell foo-ko] (1926-1984)
French bourgeois philosopher and sociologist who taught at universities in both France and the United States. He was variously closely associated with structuralism, post-structuralism and postmodernism, though he ultimately rejected all those labels. (Bourgeois philosophers, especially adherents to the schools of Continental Philosophy, very much dislike being pinned down on matters big or small. Besides not wanting to have to defend any definite philosophical positions, they often think they are so great and so unique that any existing label could only demean them!) In later years, however, Foucault did describe his thought as a critical history of “modernity” rooted in Kant. Besides Kant, he was also greatly influenced by Nietzsche, and in one interview he openly stated that “I am a Nietzschean.”
But despite this variety of deeply bourgeois connections and associations, including some of the most reactionary like Nietzsche, Foucault is often considered a “leftist radical” in academia, and someone worth seriously studying, discussing and following! Indeed, the Wikipedia (from which a lot of the information in this entry is taken) says that in 2007 Foucault was listed by the [London] Times Higher Education Guide as the “most cited intellectual in the humanities”! Foucault is said to be “best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality”. So if you are interested in discussions of those topics from the perspective of Kant, Nietzsche and postmodernism, then I guess Foucault is your man! But if you want a revolutionary Marxist perspective, then look elsewhere!
Foucault was an inactive member of the revisionist Communist Party of France for a few years, but never anything like a real revolutionary Marxist, either in theory or practice. In the late 1970s, in the midst of a turn in French society away from radicalism, a number of young philosophers who had previously considered themselves to be “Maoists” completely abandoned that perspective and shifted strongly to the right. These so-called “New Philosophers” often cited Foucault as their major influence. While Foucault himself is said to have had “mixed feelings” about this, any genuine revolutionary would have been completely disgusted and totally embarrassed by it! But this shows the sort of influence which Foucault has actually had.
This is the name given by the Chinese during the Mao era to the following four points which concisely and powerfully sum up the essence and meaning of communist revolution:
1) The abolition of class distinctions generally.
2) The abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest.
3) The abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production.
4) The revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.
These four points are taken verbatim from a passage in Marx’s pamphlet, “The Class Struggles in France” (1850), MECW 10:127.
A mass campaign in China, circa early 1966, as part of the Socialist Education Movement, to clean up (i.e. remove bourgeois influences in) politics, ideology, organization and the economy.
Shorthand for a list of four priorities that members of the Communist Party of China and the People’s Liberation Army were expected to keep in mind during the Mao era. First place must be given:
1) To man (humans) in handling the relationship between man and weapons;
2) To political work in handling the relationship between political and other work;
3) To ideological work in relation to other aspects of political work; and
4) In ideological work, to the ideas currently in a person’s mind as distinguished from ideas in books.
That is to say, first place to man, first place to political work, first place to ideological work and first place to living ideas.
Companies of the People’s Liberation Army in China during the Mao era which were good in political and ideological work, in the “three-eight” working style, in military training and in arranging their everyday life.
In Maoist China, departments of the People’s Liberation Army (and perhaps government departments in general) which were good in political and ideological work, in the “three-eight” working style, in their specialized work and in arranging their everyday life.
The four great attributes ascribed to Mao Zedong during the early years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: “Our great teacher, great leader, great supreme commander and great helmsman Chairman Mao...”. For a period this was almost an obligatory phrase at least for the first reference to Mao in any article or speech. It was part of the effort to build a cult of personally around him. After a few years, however, that cult was drastically toned down and the “four greats” were seldom mentioned any more.
Shorthand for a set of ideological targets of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China: old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits.
FOURIER, François Marie Charles (1772-1837)
Important French utopian socialist. He put forward the idea of an ideal community called a phalanx, based on his elaborate design of a central building called a phalanstère. While sometimes ridiculed for this, architecture can in fact be of some importance in the promotion of cooperative social consciousness. Fourier was far ahead of his time when it came to the promotion of equality for women, and was the inventor of the term feminism.
The killing of officers by the soldiers in their own army. Since soldiers in capitalist countries are mostly from poor or working class families while the officers are usually from higher social strata, and since the officers in these armies constantly lord their authority over the ordinary soldiers in a most severe way, there are inevitable conflicts between the two at all times. However, during wartime the situation can be more extreme; it is the job of the officer corp to order soldiers into battle in the service of the ruling class, which puts the lives of these soldiers at serious risk for no good purpose. The soldiers sometimes take violent exception to this! And one form of that is to simply turn their guns around against their own officers.
Although there are occasional fraggings in virtually all wars, this became particularly common in the U.S. imperialist war of aggression against Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. There were an officially reported 209 cases of fragging of U.S. officers in that war, but the number was probably far larger. (It was much less embarrassing for the military to report deaths due to “enemy fire” than it was deaths at the hands of their own soldiers!) The rebelliousness of their own army was one of several important factors that led to the defeat of the U.S. imperialists in that war. The name “fragging” comes from the common use of fragmentation grenades for this purpose. The very last thing a number of U.S. imperialist officers saw in their lives was a fragmentation grenade rolling toward them on the floor of their tent.
“[In Vietnam] the targets of the attacks were mostly junior field
officers. The men who tossed grenades at or shot their officers in many cases were
African Americans. They were pushed over the top by what they considered the brutal,
racist and dehumanizing treatment by white officers. Their hatred was fed by
resentment of being drafted and forced to fight in what they considered a racist,
senseless war against oppressed people.
“The growing problem of ‘fraggings’ leaped to public attention in the trial of Billy Dean Smith in 1971. Smith ... was an African American. He was accused of killing two white officers. Though Smith was eventually acquitted, the trial quickly turned into as much a debate over Army racism and the waging of an unjust war as Smith’s personal guilt or innocence.” —Earl Ofari Hutchinson, “Echoes of ‘fragging’”, San Francisco Chronicle, March 27, 2003.
This was centered around what was officially known as the Institute for Social Research, which was founded and affiliated with the University of Frankfurt in 1923 under the direction of Carl Grünberg. During the Nazi era it was forced to relocate to New York, but returned home in 1949. Among its leading lights were Max Horkheimer, who was the Director from 1931 to 1958, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, who had a considerable influence on some of the leaders of the New Left in the U.S. during the 1960s. Its leading later representative is Jürgen Habermas. The programme of the school was supposedly to construct a “critical theory” of Marxism, which they characteristically tried to do in academia and in a way completely divorced from the mass revolutionary movement!
In other words, the Frankfurt School in actual practice has been primarily a loose association of intellectual revisionists who were influenced by Marxism to some degree, but who sought to reconstruct it along the much more idealist and bourgeois lines which were acceptable to them. They found a great deal to criticize in Marx and Engels, and even more to criticize in Lenin. Later they added Mao to their list of Marxist-Leninists they didn’t much care for.
One of their most consistent themes was to oppose materialism. They used this sneaky approach: they identified materialism and its defense with Stalin and his USSR in order to discredit it with their target audience. As much as possible they tried to ignore or deny the plain fact that all the great developers of the science of revolutionary Marxism have been staunch and extremely consistent materialists. In particular they tried to distort Marx’s early writings to make him out to be some sort of Hegelian idealist! Their second sneaky trick was to absurdly claim that dialectical materialism as it has been understood within Marxism-Leninism was actually a form of “positivism”! And in general the Frankfurt School has focused almost entirely on the superstructure of society, with a determination to put an idealist slant on their interpretation of it. Like most idealists, they found Kant attractive when it comes to epistemology. They were also enthusiastic about psychoanalysis, despite the fact that it is mostly a pseudo-science. The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm was one of those associated with the Frankfurt School.
The Frankfurt School rejected orthodox Marxism as a “dogma”. It seems only fair, therefore, that we revolutionary Marxists should reject the Frankfurt School as silly idealist revisionism!
[To be added... ]
The aspect of a capitalist economy wherein commodities are exchanged between buyers and sellers, and the prices for these commodities are determined firstly, by the value in them (the amount of socially necessary labor time incorporated into their production), and secondly, by additional influences and fluctuations around that value center of gravity based on such things as the varying supply and demand.
The capitalists like the name “free market”, rather than alternatives such as the “capitalist market”, or the “commodities market”, since it suggests freedom, which is something that people view positively. (In other words the term includes some bourgeois ideological indoctrination.) But behind the “freedom” of this so-called “free market” is the system of production which involves the enormous exploitation of human labor in order to produce the commodities which are then freely sold by their expropriators (capitalist thieves) on this “free market”.
A secondary meaning of the term “free market” is in contrast to any capitalist market which is regulated or “interfered with” in even small ways by the capitalist government. The idea here is that any regulation of the market (even if this is actually being done for the benefit of the capitalist class itself!) necessarily impinges on the “freedom” of that market! (Many bourgeois ideologues, especially those who favor laissez-faire or neoliberal forms of capitalism, are actually too stupid to know that some forms of regulation of the market are actually in their own overall capitalist class interests!)
See also: EFFICIENT MARKET HYPOTHESIS
FREE MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM
The ideological belief in the absolute virtues of the “free market” (see entry above) in its virtually pure and unregulated form, even to the point of maintaining that any “interference” or regulation of the market whatsoever will cause more problems than it prevents. These adherents of laissez-faire capitalism have what amounts to a religious faith in this “free market” from both the point of view of its supposed economic efficiency and (even more absurdly) from their conception of morality!
Although faith in the capitalist “free market” is something that most contemporary bourgeois thinkers uphold, some of them uphold it in almost absolutely pure form, while others recognize that some regulation of the capitalist market must occur. This latter group sometimes insults the former group by calling their ideology “free market fundamentalism”.
FREE RIDER PROBLEM
The strong tendency in bourgeois society for individuals to not in any way voluntarily pay for goods and services which are available to them for free. Thus if the government builds a road which any person can drive on for free, the only way the government can pay for such a road is through taxes which the “public” (meaning, mostly the working class) is forced to pay. Bourgeois ideologists use this argument to supposedly “prove” that communism cannot work, since all the necessary consumer goods will be available for free in communist society and money will not even exist.
However, we Marxists know that both society and individual people can be gradually changed, and people can eventually be brought up in such a way that they willingly and enthusiastically donate their collective labor to produce all the goods and services that society needs. This will become ever more feasible as the further development of machinery and automation make the amount of labor necessary from each person smaller and smaller, and the nature of that labor less and less onerous—and even something which most often (instead of only rarely in this society) leads to human enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfillment. In the meanwhile, after the proletarian seizure of power, we will have to settle for an ever-improving (gradually more communistic) socialist economy.
1. Anti-determinism; i.e., the idealist view that cause and effect do not operate in the realm of human action.
2. The ability to act according to one’s inclinations or desires. This is opposed to fatalism, but it is often erroneously imagined to also be opposed to determinism.
Obviously these two senses are completely opposed to each other with regard to the question of determinism. Sense 1 above is the older sense that was most common a century ago, but sense 2 is more widespread today, and reflects a more sophisticated understanding of the role of determinism in the world. When Marxist writers such as Lenin condemn “free will” it is sense 1 that they are referring to.
See also: FREEDOM AND NECESSITY, COMPATIBILISM, and Philosophical doggerel about free will.
“The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys man’s reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions. Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will.” —Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are” (1894), LCW 1:159.
[Intro to be added... ]
“‘Freedom’ is a grand word, but under the banner of freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, under the banner of freedom for labor, the working people were robbed.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:355. [Lenin’s point is that there are very different conceptions of freedom from the point of view of different social classes. —S.H.]
FREEDOM AND NECESSITY
“Hegel was the first to state correctly the relation between freedom and necessity. To him, freedom is the insight into necessity. ‘Necessity is blind only in so far as it is not understood.’ Freedom does not consist in any dreamt-of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends. This holds good in relation both to the laws of external nature and to those which govern the bodily and mental existence of men themselves—two classes of laws which we can separate from each other at most only in thought but not in reality. Freedom of the will therefore means nothing but the capacity to make decisions with knowledge of the subject. Therefore the freer a man’s judgment is in relation to a definite question, the greater is the necessity with which the content of this judgment will be determined; while the uncertainty, founded on ignorance, which seems to make an arbitrary choice among many different and conflicting possible decisions, shows precisely by this that it is not free, that it is controlled by the very object it should itself control. Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, a control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:105-106.
FREEDOM ROAD SOCIALIST ORGANIZATION
[To be added... ]
A German-language weekly newspaper of the anarchist group led by Johann Most and Wilhelm Hasselmann which was published in London from 1879 to 1882, then in Belgium in 1882 and in the U.S. from 1882 to 1910.
FRENCH REVOLUTION (of 1789)
The overthrow of the French King and aristocracy by the rising new class, the bourgeoisie (or capitalist class), and one of the most important political events in modern history. This is the great revolution that is meant when the phrase “the French Revolution” is used without reference to any specific date.
After a series of wars the French state of King Louis XVI was in serious financial difficulties, and in 1789 it convened a rare meeting of the weak national assembly (the Estates-Generales) in an attempt to deal with the problem. Within this assembly gathering the bourgeois leaders of the Third Estate (everybody other than the clergy and the nobility) demanded limits on the authority of the King and more power for themselves. This tipped off the first stage of the revolution.
The lower classes, however, especially in Paris itself, soon pushed the revolution in a much more radical direction. This led to the beheading of the King in 1793, along with thousands of the nobility and their supporters, in what is known as “the Terror” or “the Reign of Terror”. There is little doubt, however, that this shedding of the blood of the old ruling class was necessary for the success of the revolution. This radical phase of the revolution ended in 1794.
After several years of weak conservative rule general Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in a coup d’état in 1799, and later made himself Emperor.
The great French Revolution was one of the greatest bourgeois revolutions; it marked the end of feudalism in France and the beginning of bourgeois rule. Though there were periods of restorations of emperors and kings, the bourgeoisie remained largely in control of French society from then until the present time. Moreover the radical ideas from the early days of the revolution, as epitomized in the slogan “liberty, equality and fraternity” had profound influences on Europe as a whole and indeed the entire world.
See also: JACOBINS, MOUNTAIN AND GIRONDE
“The ever-memorable and blessed [French] Revolution... swept a thousand years of ... villany away in one swift tidal-wave of blood—one: a settlement of that hoary debt in the proportion of half a drop of blood for each hogshead of it that had been pressed by slow tortures out of that people in the weary stretch of ten centuries of wrong and shame and misery the like of which was not to be mated but in hell. There were two ‘Reigns of Terror,’ if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the ‘horrors’ of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with life-long death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.” —Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), Ch. XIII.
“When Mao Zedong was asked his assessment of the French Revolution, the chairman replied, ‘It’s too soon to tell.’” —Bill Brazell, Wired magazine, Feb. 1997, p. 52. [Of course for every Marxist, including Mao, indeed for every truly progressive person with any knowledge at all of history, the French Revolution was one of the greatest of all historical events. But Mao here is obviously taking a long philosophical view, one that might reflect on humanity as a whole by saying that the final verdict is not yet in. —S.H.]
FRENCH REVOLUTION (of 1830)
The revolution which overthrew Charles X, the last of the Bourbon kings. Charles had tried to restrict the freedom of the press and curtail the power of the legislature, which led to a popular uprising in Paris which overthrew him. After Charles was deposed, Louis Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, replaced him as the “Citizen King”, a constitutional monarch who repudiated the divine right of kings. But Louis Philippe increasingly supported the interests of the bourgeoisie against those of the working class, whose conditions worsened. He himself was then overthrown in the revolution of February 1848.
FRIEDMAN, Milton (1912-2006)
One of the most influential American bourgeois economists of the 20th century, the founder of what is known as the “Chicago School” of bourgeois economics which insists on complete laissez faire or neo-liberalism. Friedman was a monetarist, who absurdly thought that most things in the capitalist economy could be explained by the quantity of money in circulation and the prevailing interest rates. Friedman and his colleagues supported various dictatorships such as that of Pinochet in Chile in the name of encouraging “freedom”! He was also presented the phony “Nobel Prize in Economics”, awarded by the Bank of Sweden.
See also: MORALITY—and Capitalism
“FROM THE MASSES, TO THE MASSES”
The slogan, originated by Mao Zedong, summarizing the central concept of the MASS LINE method of revolutionary leadership.
The theory of mind which says that mental processes are functions, actions, aspects or characteristics of the brain (or an equivalent entity). There are both materialist and idealist versions of functionalism. I believe that the dialectical materialist theory of mind should be considered a form of materialist functionalism.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about functionalism.
FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTION OF CAPITALISM
[To be added... ]
FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTIONS IN THE WORLD
See: WORLD CONTRADICTIONS (Fundamental).
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF ETHICS (In Classless Society)
[To be added...]
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF ETHICS (In Class Society)
[To be added...]
See: FENG YU-LAN.
An Italian school of bourgeois literature and then of “modern” abstract painting, starting around 1909, that glorified the machine age, modern capitalist society, patriotism, violence and war. Most of those involved with it were supportive of the rising fascist trend in Italy, and from 1922 on Futurism became part of the official fascist cultural offensive. Futurism also had influence internationally, and even in the early Soviet Union, though there were attempts there to divorce it from fascist ideology and connect it to proletarian ideology. Even so, Futurism was almost always most reflective of bourgeois cultural interests and ideology.
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