Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- GA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ga-Gd.
- GE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ge-Gh.
- GI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Gi-Gk.
- GL.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Gl-Gn.
- GO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Go-Gq.
- GR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Gr-Gt.
- GU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Gu-Gz.
Although this older “G.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.
G-7 (Group of Seven)
An economic forum of the seven leading advanced industrial economies in the world, whose finance ministers have met several times a year to discuss problems in the world capitalist economy and to arrange for co-ordination of economic policies. It was formed in 1976 when Canada was added to the previous “Group of Six” (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the U.S.). In 2009 the G-7 decided that it no longer had sufficient economic power to coordinate (or completely dominate!) the entire world capitalist economy, and decided that the G-20 group (see below) would be the more appropriate forum for that purpose. The G-7 continues, however, perhaps more as a semi-independent “faction” within the G-20. G-7 meetings are now planned to be more informal and to be scheduled just before G-20 meetings.
G-8 (Group of Eight)
A primarily political forum (rather than economic) of the G-7 countries (see above) together with Russia, which meets about once a year in attempts to resolve actual or potential political disagreements and conflicts.
G-20 (Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors)
An expanded forum created by the G-7 (see above) in 1999, for consultations on the international financial system and the world capitalist economy, and for coordination of national economic policies. It consists of the biggest developed and “emerging” world economies which represent 90% of global GNP, 80% of world trade (including European Union internal trade), and roughly two-thirds of the world population. Its members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.S., the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Before 2009, the G-20 was subordinate to the G-7 in importance. But because of the growing economic power of China and other members of the G-20 who are not members of the G-7, in late September 2009, in the midst of the intensified world economic crisis, the G-20 was formally designated as the primary international consultation and coordination body for the economic policies of the major capitalist countries.
GALILEO GALILEI (1564-1642)
Great Italian scientist and founder of modern experimental physics. He was put under house arrest by the Roman Catholic Church and threatened with being burned at the stake (as was done to Giordano Bruno in the year 1600) if he did not renounce the Copernican theory that the earth revolves around the sun (rather than vice-versa). This is a famous episode in the perpetual war between science and religion.
The study, often highly mathematical, of interdependent decision making. Since this subject is mostly pursued by bourgeois economists and mathematicians, the assumption is usually made that the current generally selfish human nature in bourgeois society is fixed for all time. This colors and distorts all the “findings” of this “science”. The major founding work of economic game theory was Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944), by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern.
See also: ZERO-SUM
GANAPATHY (or GANAPATHI or GANAPATI)
The nom de guerre of Muppala Lakshmana Rao, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). According to sources on the Internet, he was born in Beerpur village in Sarangapur mandal (“township”) in Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, and became a teacher there. While in college in Warangal he met Maoist leaders Nalla Adi Reddy and Kondapalli Seetharamaiah and joined the Naxalite movement. He was one of the early members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War and eventually became the General Secretary of the party. When that party merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India in September 2004 to form the CPI(Maoist), Ganapathy became the General Secretary of the unified party.
A number of articles by and interviews with Ganapathy are available at: http://www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/index.htm
“GANG OF FOUR”
The so-called “Gang of Four” consisted of Mao’s wife Jiang Qing (Chiang Ching), Zhang Qunqiao (Chang Chun-chiao), Wang Hongwen (Wang Hung-wen), and Yao Wenyuan (Yao Wen-yuan). [More to be added.]
See: GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
GENERAL AGREEMENTS ON TRADE TARIFFS (GATT)
The predecessor set of trade agreements, and the organization to arbitrate and enforce those agreements, which later became the World Trade Organization (WTO).
GENERAL CRISIS OF CAPITALISM THESIS
The General Crisis of Capitalism Thesis (GCC) is the theory that the entire period of capitalist-imperialism is one of overall economic and political crisis of a much more extensive and profound sort than the periodic industrial crises that Marx talked about in the pre-monopoly era. The GCC thesis is an extension and rather simplistic and mechanical systemization of Lenin’s views in his famous 1916 pamphlet, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. The GCC thesis was originally developed by the Comintern in the 1920s and 1930s, but continues to be supported to this day by some Communist parties and by some individual Marxists. However, the thesis has also been strongly criticized by other Marxists.
“Lenin’s basic point of view was that the imperialist era is the final
stage of capitalism, an era during which all the contradictions of capitalism become
enormously concentrated and intensified, and therefore an era of interimperialist war, of
economic crisis, and of proletarian revolution. And, actually, looking back at the past
century, this does not seem to be too bad a summary of what has actually happened—though
clearly the era is not yet over and the process is by no means complete.
“Nevertheless, it is now clear that the imperialist era is stretching out to be a whole lot longer than Lenin envisioned, and that within this long historical epoch there are fairly long sub-periods of war or of relative peace, of economic crisis or of relative economic good times (for the bourgeoisie anyway), and of revolution or of relative political quiescence. Consequently the old formula of the imperialist epoch being characterized as one long general crisis of capitalism no longer seems correct. It now appears much too simplistic.
“In fact, it has become quite obvious that the capitalist business cycle continues to operate in the imperialist era. That is, there continue to be booms, busts, depressions (or recessions) and recoveries. It is true that the proper analysis of this business cycle in the imperialist era is still subject to dispute. Some people say recessions are now generally much milder (except for the Great Depression of the 1930s of course!), others talk about short waves and long waves, and still others have quite different theories....
“But however one views the development of the business cycle over the past century, it is undeniable that there was at least one long overall boom in the capitalist world—the quarter-century period after World War II. Thus, from the point of view of economics, at least, it seems really wrong to say that the entire imperialist era has been one of a ‘general crisis of capitalism’.
“I should note that most modern (post World War II) theorists of the GCC thesis do not deny that the business cycle continues to exist in the imperialist era, nor that there are still booms as well as busts. But this was not the view of most of the Comintern theorists of the GCC back in the 1930s; they did see the Great Depression as an integral part of the general crisis of capitalism. But in light of the long capitalist recovery after World War II, GCC theorists these days are forced to say that the general crisis of capitalism is not the same as one long capitalist economic crisis.” —Adapted from Scott H., “Comments on Sison’s ‘Contradictions in the World Capitalist System and the Necessity of Socialist Revolution’” (Jan. 23, 2002).
But, despite drawing a distinction between the GCC and periodic industrial crises, modern GCC theorists still see intensified economic problems as a very important part of the general crisis of capitalism. For example, the Soviet revisionist writer V. Trepelkov wrote that there are four “major features” of the general crisis of capitalism:
1. “[T]he world is divided into two opposing socio-economic systems, the
socialist and capitalist ones…. [T]he change in the alignment of forces in favor of socialism
is the most significant manifestation of the increasingly deepening general crisis of
capitalism…. The contradiction between the two opposing social systems is the principal
contradiction of the modern era.”
2. “[T]he crisis of the colonial system, a crisis which at a definite stage develops into its breakdown…. A large group of countries that have won political independence are now fighting for their economic independence. Some have opted for the non-capitalist road of development….”
3. “[T]he aggravation of the internal economic contradictions of the imperialist countries, and the heightening of economic instability and decay. This makes itself felt in sharp fluctuations in the growth rates, in disproportionate economic development, in increasingly frequent crises, in constant under-loading [perhaps this just means the gross underutilization of existing factories —S.H.], in chronic unemployment, in runaway inflation, in the crisis of international monetary relations, in militarization of the economy, etc.”
4. “[T]he crisis of bourgeois politics and ideology.” [From V. Trepelkov, General Crisis of Capitalism (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1983), pp. 21-25.]
However, if we look at each of these four “features” we find serious problems for the GCC thesis:
“With regard to point 1), the world was not really divided into a
socialist sphere and a capitalist sphere in 1983 when Trepelkov’s book was published, nor
is it today. The so-called ‘socialist camp’ at that time was really a competing
state-capitalist camp. And a mere 6 or 8 years later much of this so-called ‘socialist
camp’, including the Soviet Union itself, fell apart completely.
“Feature 2), with regard to the crisis of the colonial system, also has some problems. It is true that old-style open colonialism had a world-wide crisis which led to its nearly universal replacement with neo-colonialism. But the completion of this great (but superficial) change actually led to a lot of demoralization (because neo-colonialism is really little better), and probably even to an overall reduction in anti-imperialist struggle around the world for a time. Of course I don’t say that there cannot be struggle in the neo-colonies for ‘economic independence’, but so far this struggle has been mostly under the leadership of national bourgeois forces—which is why it has been so pathetically weak and ineffective. And as for seeking economic independence by some ‘non-capitalist’, but also non-socialist, road—that is certainly a dead-end pipe dream.
“Anti-imperialist struggle, at one level or another, is a permanent feature of the imperialist era. And as such, it might well be described as a permanent problem for imperialism. But none of this necessarily means that imperialism is in a permanent ‘general crisis’.
“Let me skip feature 3) for a moment and go on to feature 4), ‘the crisis of bourgeois politics and ideology’. Well, of course, there have been many political crises over the past few decades, but bad as this has been in the ‘West’, it has been worse in the Soviet sphere—which ended up collapsing completely. This general crisis, which is supposed to be ‘a process in which more and more countries depart from capitalism’ has turned out to be more of a general crisis of revisionism, wherein more and more revisionist countries revert to Western-style capitalism. And while there has indeed also been considerable ideological ferment in the ‘West’, actually Western ideologists have been riding relatively high in the saddle in recent years. So much so, in fact, that some of them have proclaimed the ‘end of ideology’ and even the ‘end of history’! Unfortunately, the bigger ideological crisis has been within the ranks of revolutionaries and Marxists, many of whom have been losing their bearings. (It is bitter to recognize things like this, but it is the truth of the matter.)
“So really, if you want to defend the GCC thesis today, it must all come down to ‘feature 3)’, the aggravation of economic contradictions in the capitalist world. And here too there are great problems for the GCC thesis. Here’s one big problem: If this serious aggravation of economic problems is not due to the same contradictions which bring about ‘ordinary crises’, then what is it due to? That should be a really embarrassing question for ‘modern’ GCC theorists, if they were ever to consider it. Neither Marx, nor Lenin, nor Soviet revisionist economists, nor anybody else (as far as I know), has ever given an answer to this question. And in fact, Lenin said exactly the opposite—that the contradictions of the imperialist era are the very same contradictions as racked capitalism beforehand, but now greatly intensified. So while the GCC theorists started out by denying that the GCC is the same as a capitalist economic crisis, in the end that is pretty much all that is left of their doctrine after the invalid and now-discredited political points are thrown out.
“It is true, of course, that we can no longer look at capitalist crises in the same way we did in the 19th century. We are forced by plain and obvious facts to recognize that there are both short term fluctuations in the capitalist economy (still usually called ‘business cycles’) and longer-term, broader ups and downs, such as the Great Depression, the post-World War II boom, and the 35-year-long slowdown that began in the early 1970s. And, once again, the very fact that there are also longer-term ups and downs is fatal for the GCC claim of permanent general crisis.
“The old Comintern theory of the ‘general crisis of capitalism’ cannot be upheld in either its 1930s form, nor its ‘modern’ form. It is a failed, and even incoherent theory, once you start to look at it carefully. Reality is much more complex than that simple theory comprehends.” —Extracts from Scott H., “Comments on Sison’s ‘Contradictions in the World Capitalist System and the Necessity of Socialist Revolution’” (Jan. 23, 2002). See that essay for further criticism of the GCC thesis.
Pseudo-scientific academic cult, with little or no actual connection to the semantics branch of linguistic science.
An important concept in the social philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau. In his definition the general will is the common good that any well-formed (normal) citizen would recognize, and is neither that citizen’s own private will nor quite the same as the shared private wills of all individual citizens. The concept of the general will is therefore a rather sophisticated abstraction, in the same way that the class interests of a given social class are a sophisticated abstraction from the totality of all the individual interests of members of that class.
“There is often a great difference between the will of all [what
all individuals want] and the general will; the general will studies only the common
interest while the will of all studies private interest, and is indeed no more than
the sum of individual desires. But if we take away from these same wills, the pluses
and minuses which cancel each other out, the sum of the difference is the general
will.” —Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, translated by Maurice
Cranston, (NY: Penguin, 1983), Book II, Chapter 3, pp. 72-73. The words above in
brackets are in the original.
[Ignoring Rousseau’s incorrect psychological focus, what is being said here is that the common interests of members of a group must be abstracted from their individual interests, and are by no means always identical to their shared individual interests. Quite a sophisticated observation for 1762! —S.H.]
The erroneous view, which is very widespread in modern bourgeois society, that who and what we are is wholly determined by the particular forms of the genes we have, that is by our specific DNA, which we inherited from our parents. This is still the most common form of a more general erroneous view, biological determinism. However, with the completion of the human genome project, many of the adherents of genetic determinism felt a big let-down at how little that had advanced our full knowledge of human beings and how they work. So now the trend is toward the less specific idiocy, biological determinism.
An exceptional capacity for coming up with novel and important conceptions. That is, the ability to come up with new ideas in the way that all human beings can, but to be able to do so much more frequently than others. Often this arises in part from the fact that the person puts his or her mind to solving pending problems more intently than others do. That is, genius can arise from (or at least be amplified by) serious and sustained concentration and enormous determination. Genius also comes from being smart enough to seek out the good ideas of many other people.
“But there’s no denying the fact ... [of] Marx’s genius, his almost excessive scientific scrupulousness and his incredible erudition place him so far above all the rest of us that anyone who ventures to critize his discoveries is more likely to burn his fingers than anything else. That is something which must be left to a more advanced epoch.... I simply cannot understand how anyone can be envious of genius; it’s something so very special that we who have not got it know it to be unattainable right from the start; but to be envious of anything like that one must have to be frightfully small-minded.” —Engels, letter to Eduard Bernstein, Oct. 25, 1881, MECW 46:146-7.
GEORGE, Henry (1839-97)
A liberal-radical journalist and economist (of sorts), best known for his book Progress and Poverty (1877-79), which put forward the naïve notion that poverty could be eliminated through the implimentation of the so-called “single tax” on the value of land exclusive of any improvements on it, and the abolition of all other taxes including those on “industry” (capitalist companies). Although he was clearly something of a crackpot, he had a quite substantial following for a time in the late 19th century.
“Theoretically the man [Henry George] is utterly backward. He
understands nothing about the nature of surplus value, and so engages in
speculations—which follow the English model but even fall short of the English—about
the portions of surplus value that have attained independent existence, i.e., the
relation of profit, rent, interest, etc. His fundamental dogma is that everything
would be all right if rent were paid to the state. (You will find payment of
this kind also among the transitional measures included in the Communist
Manifesto.) This idea originated with the bourgeois economists; it was first put
forward ... by the earliest radical disciples of Ricardo, just after his
“But the first person to turn this desideratum of the radical English bourgeois economists into a socialist panacea, to declare this procedure to be the solution of the antagonisms involved in the present mode of production, was Colins, an old ex-officer of Napoleon’s Hussars, born in Belgium, who ... presented bulky volumes about this ‘discovery’ of his to the world.... [Marx then goes on to mention some of the followers of Colins, and others who embraced the same panacea.]
“All these ‘Socialists’ since Colins have this much in common, that they leave wage labor and hence capitalist production in existence and try to bamboozle themselves or the world into believing that by transforming rent of land into a tax payable to the state all the evils of capitalist production would vanish of themselves. The whole thing is thus simply a socialistically decked-out attempt to save capitalist rule and actually re-establish it on an even wider basis than its present one.
“This cloven hoof—which is at the same time an ass’s hoof—peeps out unmistakably from the declamations of Henry George too. It is the more unpardonable in him because he ought on the contrary to have asked himself the question: How did it happen that in the United States, where, relatively, that is compared with civilized Europe, the land was accessible to the great masses of the people and still is, to a certain degree (again relatively), capitalist economy and the corresponding enslavement of the working class have developed more rapidly and more shamelessly than in any other country?
“On the other hand, George’s book, and also the sensation it has created among you, is significant because it is a first though unsuccessful effort at emancipation from orthodox political economy....” —Marx, Letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge in Hoboken, N.J., June 20, 1881. From Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence (Moscow: 1975), pp. 322-3. [In a different translation in MECW 46:99-101.]
GHERAO [Verb; pronounced guh-ROW or sometimes juh-ROW]
[Term used mostly in English in India and South Asia, often in the past tense: ‘gheraoed’ (‘guh-ROWD’):] To protest by surrounding a building or a person until the demands being raised are met. Most common when an official, employer or manager is surrounded and detained by a crowd of angry workers at a workplace or in a political protest. (From the Hindi word gherna, “surround”.)
[To be added... ]
Literally “hill people”. This is another term used in India, especially in Andhra Pradesh state, for what are more usually called the adivasis or “tribal” peoples.
A law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1933 which separated the more risky forms of banking (“investment banking”) from ordinary commercial and savings banking. It was recognized in the Great Depression that the combination of these two forms of banking had aggravated the financial aspects of that great economic crisis, and led to the failure of many more banks and the loss of savings deposits for millions of people.
However, by the 1990s the ruling class had forgotten this lesson. Their unscientific and totally erroneous economic theory convinced them that great economic crises could no longer occur in the capitalist system. This, combined with their enormous greed and desire to gamble with people’s savings, led to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 at the hands of the Republican-controlled Congress and a Democrat President (Bill Clinton) who remarked: “This [repeal] legislation is truly historic. It is true the Glass-Steagall law is no longer appropriate to the economy in which we live.” [“Clinton Signs Legislation Overhauling Banking Laws”, Dow Jones News Service, Nov. 12, 1999.] A mere 8 years later the “Great Recession” began (the early stages of a new depression), and the renewed merger of ordinary banking and investment banking once again greatly aggravated the financial aspects of the crisis. (It is true however, that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was mostly just a formality; the banking industry had pretty much been ignoring it—with the tacit approval of the government—for at least a decade.)
GLOBAL FINANCIAL ASSETS
The total financial assets owned by anyone or any company or government organization over the entire world. In 2007 the global financial assets were estimated to be $196 trillion by the McKinsey Global Institute (Mapping Global Capital Markets: Fifth Annual Report, October 2008).
The total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for all the countries of the world, for a given year. The Global GDP for 2007 was around $64 trillion.
The rise in the average surface temperature of the Earth due to the emission of certain gases into the atmosphere which cause it to more efficiently trap the radiant energy from the sun, leading to a result similar to what occurs in a greenhouse. The most important such gas is carbon dioxide, much of which is now being released into the atmosphere by humans burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.
[Intro material to be added... ]
“The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases
the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere,
settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.
“The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
“The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Ch. I: MECW 6:487-8.
An hypothesized “spiritual” (immaterial) human-like entity who is unseen but who supposedly exists everywhere, is all-powerful, all-knowing, and who created the physical world and everything in it including human beings. This is a goofy, philosophical idealist and unscientific notion if ever there was one, since it supposes that a non-material “thing” is the source and cause of the material world. From a genuine materialist perspective the concept of God is simply incoherent and absurd.
See also: PROBLEM OF EVIL, and Philosophical doggerel about God.
“God-building—a philosophic trend, hostile to Marxism, which
arose in the period of the Stolypin reaction among a
section of the Party intellectuals, who departed from Marxism after the defeat of
the Revolution of 1905-07. The god-builders (A.V. Lunacharsky, V. Bazarov and
others) advocated the creation of a new, ‘socialist’ religion in an attempt to
reconcile Marxism with religion. At one time they were joined by Maxim Gorky.
“The reactionary nature of god-building was revealed by Lenin in his book Materialism and Empirio-criticism and in his letters to Gorky during February-April 1908 and November-December 1913.” —Footnote 77, LCW 20:581.
GOLD — Use as Money
[Intro to be added...]
One important characteristic of any commodity used as money is that it must be scarce. Gold makes up just 0.004 parts per million of the earth’s crust. A related characteristic is that the quantity of the commodity available must grow fairly slowly (or, even ideally, at the same rate as the general growth of production of all commodities). Gold comes fairly close to this; for the period of 1900-2009 the worldwide stock of gold grew (through mining) at the rate of 1.5% a year.
A third important characteristic of any commodity being used as money is that it should be close to imperishable. Gold does not rust, corrode, burn, evaporate, disintegrate, or otherwise disappear under any normal conditions, all of which make gold an excellent store of value. Some gold is “consumed” in the form of jewelry, but much of this jewelry ends up being melted down again eventually. Small amounts of gold are also used in electronics and elsewhere in industry and society, but again, at least some this gold later gets recovered, and the mining of new gold is well able to make up for these losses.
A fourth important characteristic of any money commodity is that it can be fairly easily transported. This is the case for gold in relatively small amounts, though not in huge amounts (because gold is very heavy and is expensive to ship and guard). But means have been found to work around this (such as by having the gold stored in a mutually agreed upon vault, and to merely change the registered ownership of it).
Thus gold is in many respects the ideal commodity to serve as money.
A monetary system where the value of a unit of currency of a country (such as a dollar) is defined in terms of a set amount (weight) of gold, and in which that currency may be freely exchanged for gold from the government at that set rate. This restricts the ability of the central bank of the country to inflate the currency unless it devalues, i.e. decreases the amount of gold it is willing to pay out in exchange for a unit of currency. Thus countries on a gold standard tend to have less inflation, and even a certain amount of gentle deflation if the economy is expanding at a rate faster than the world production of gold.
The gold standard worked fairly well throughout history and through the 19th century. It was sometimes suspended during wars (at least as far as the payment of international debts was concerned), but then resumed after the wars were over. However, bourgeois economists have falsely blamed the Great Depression of the 1930s on deflation and the gold standard, and also wish to have a freer hand to engage in changes in the monetary supply (including through the promotion of modest inflation). At the Bretton Woods conference near the end of World War II a modified gold standard was put in place, intermediated by the U.S. dollar, since the U.S. was then the dominant capitalist country in the world and also held most of the gold. This fell apart in 1971 when President Nixon was forced to end the convertibility of dollars into gold even by foreign governments. Since then all the currencies of the world have been fiat money depending for their value on their continued ability to buy commodities and on the promise of the governments issuing the currency not to inflate the money supply at “too fast a pace”.
Changes in Gold Standard Policies (1920s & 1930s) |
|Country||Return to Gold
|Austria||April 1925||April 1933||October 1931||September 1931|
|Belgium||October 1926||--||--||March 1935|
|Germany||September 1924||--||July 1931||--|
|Italy||December 1927||--||May 1934||October 1936|
|Japan||December 1930||December 1931||July 1932||December 1931|
|United Kingdom||May 1925||September 1931||--||September 1931|
|United States||June 1919||March 1933||March 1933||April 1933|
[Source: Ben Bernanke, Essays on the Great Depression, |
Princeton Univ. Press, 2000, p. 74. (Includes more countries.)]
The “Golden Rule” is the precept that you should treat other people
the way you wish to be treated. This is an extremely popular ethical theory among
both religious and non-religious people. It is one of many conflicting ethical
theories that are explicit or implicit in the Bible, which quotes Jesus as saying in
the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them.” [Matthew 7:12] One of the ethical theories in the
Bible that is inconsistent with this is that of “an eye for an eye”: “And if any
mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth,
hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for
stripe.” [Exodus 21:23-25]
Although my grandmother once assured me that the King James version of the Bible was “God’s own language”, these days you usually hear the Golden Rule expressed something like this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Incidentally, the Golden Rule is not exclusively (or even originally) a Christian precept. It has been a common theory in many diverse cultures, going way, way back. Confucius, for example, said “What you do not desire, do not effect on others” (even though that principle conflicts with some of his other principles).
It is amazing how little sense the Golden Rule makes when you actually think about it critically. (Of course hardly anybody ever does! They repeat it without much thinking.) You should treat people the way you wish to be treated… OK, what if you really wish to be treated as boss, or king? Should you then treat all other people as your “boss” or as “kings”, bowing and scraping in abject obedience? Or consider a slave master: He would have others (his slaves at least) treat him as master, while he treats them as slaves. In light of the Golden Rule, should he start treating his slaves as his masters, and encourage them to treat him as their slave? (This might be poetic justice, but it would still hardly be the ideal moral society!)
Or what about masochists? Should they inflict pain on others just because that’s the way these totally screwed up people themselves want to be treated? Or what about someone who expects, and even wants, others to be cheats and crooks, because he figures he is better at it and will come out ahead in any completely dog-eat-dog world? There are people like that, you know. (We live in a capitalist society, after all!) Does he then have a moral license to proceed with his chicanery and fraud?
George Bernard Shaw wrote “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.” He was putting it in a humorous fashion, but there is some real truth behind his statement. Schopenhauer put it even better: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like done to yourself. This is, perhaps, one of those arguments that prove, or rather ask, too much. For a prisoner might address it to a judge.”
The basic problem with the Golden Rule is that it assumes that people are already moral, or basically so—which is very far from always being the case. If you are a good, fair and reasonable person, you will want good, fair and reasonable things done to you. And in that case it is indeed generally reasonable to say that you should do to others as you would have them do unto you. But if you are not already a good, fair and reasonable person, you may not yourself wish others to treat you in a good (moral), fair and reasonable way. And in that case it is very wrong for you to treat others as you would have them treat you. This is such an obvious point that it is really astounding that all the champions of the Golden Rule never seem to have even an inkling of it! —S.H., An Introduction to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Class Interest Theory of Ethics, Chapter 1, section 1.2B, from the draft of 6/14/07 as posted at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/MLM-Ethics-Ch1-2.pdf
1. [In general:] Answering to (or satisfying) certain interests. (The specific interests at issue are normally clear from the context.) Thus a good knife is one that is sharp, doesn’t rust or easily break, keeps its edge well, and so forth, because these are our usual interests in knives. A good apple is typically one that is unspoiled and unblemished, tastes good, and so forth because these are our usual interests in apples. On the other hand, if you are making an apple pie, what you will view as a good apple may differ somewhat, because in that case your interests are somewhat different. (A good pie apple is not necessarily a good eating apple; it might not be as crisp or pleasing to look at, for example.)
2. [In moral discourse in class society:] Answering to (or satisfying) the common, collective interests of a social class (the class being implied by the ideology of the speaker).
3. [In moral discourse referring to classless society:] Answering to (or satisfying) the common, collective interests of the people as a whole.
For an extensive discussion of the meaning of the word ‘good’, both in general and specifically with ethics and politics, see chapter 2 (and especially section 2.7) of my work in progress An Introduction to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Class Interest Theory of Ethics, at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/MLM-Ethics-Ch1-2.pdf . See also: DOING GOOD
GOTHA PROGRAMME [Pronounced: GO-tuh]
The programme adopted by the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) at the Gotha Congress in 1875 when the Eisenachers and Lassalleans came together to form a united working-class party. Unfortunately the Eisenachers (who were much more Marxist in their orientation) made too many concessions to the Lassalleans, and the resulting Programme suffered from eclecticism and opportunism. Marx and Engels made scathing criticisms of the Gotha Programme and considered it to be a backward step as compared to the Eisenach Programme of 1869. See especially: Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Programme”, MECW 24:75-99, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/index.htm
GOULD, Stephen Jay (1941-2002)
American liberal-radical paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, best known for his long-running series of erudite and literary essays about evolution in Natural History magazine.
Together with Niles Eldridge, Gould developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which modifies the traditional Darwinian conception of uniformly gradual evolution by pointing out that within that overall gradualness there are occasional periods of relatively rapid evolutionary change in which new species can arise after long periods of relative stasis. Punctuated equilibrium is one example of the recognition of the importance of qualitative leaps (or dialectical leaps) in science, which Marx established as a fundamental principle of materialist dialectics. And, indeed, punctuated equilibrium was apparently suggested to Gould by his radical upbringing. (His father was a Marxist.) When pro-gradualist critics lampooned the theory of punctuated equilibrium as “evolution by jerks”, Gould shot back by referring to his critics’ theory as “evolution by creeps”!
Gould was a powerful opponent of sociobiology and its supposedly sanitized reincarnation, “evolutionary psychology”, and criticized these bourgeois perversions of biology for their “deterministic view of human society and human action.” He pointed out that there was little actual evidence for genetic or other forms of biological determinism, and that such views merely represented the cultural or class biases of their supporters. Gould also pointed out that adaptive behaviors are often passed on through human culture and not genetics. He of course recognized that the genetic and biological foundation of human beings and our brains certainly can and do affect our behavior, but appropriately insisted that our biological makeup allows for a very broad range of actual behavior. This flexibility “permits us to be aggressive or peaceful, dominant or submissive, spiteful or generous… Violence, sexism, and general nastiness are biological since they represent one subset of a possible range of behaviors. But peacefulness, equality, and kindness are just as biological—and we may see their influence increase if we can create social structures that permit them to flourish.” Gould is also to be praised for his opposition to racist and sexist notions presented in the supposed form of “science”. See especially his important book Mismeasure of Man (1981).
Gould was an important advocate of evolutionary science, and an effective and important critic of creationism and other religious attacks on biology. However, his rejection of Marxism sometimes led him into serious error when he wandered into other topics (as when he promoted the classless notion that the Golden Rule should be viewed as the foundation of morality, rather than the Marxist view that class interests form that foundation). And like many prominent intellectuals in bourgeois society he feared appearing to be “too radical”, and thus failed to critize religion in general even though he did strongly criticize religious attempts to oppose or distort evolutionary biology specifically.
The worst example of this was in his theory of “non-overlapping magisteria” in the book Rock of Ages (1999) which absurdly claimed that there need be no true conflict between science and religion. According to Gould the “magisterium [or sphere] of science” covers the “empirical realm”, while the “magisterium of religion” covers questions of “ultimate meaning” and morality. He claims that these two “magisteria” do not overlap and should not poach in each other’s legitimate domain. In reality morality too has an objective basis in the collective group interests of people (or, in class society, in class interests), and ethics therefore has its basis in science just as the theories in biology or physics do. Furthermore, all religion is deeply opposed to at least some parts of science. The nearly universal religious claim that there are one or more immaterial gods, for example, is opposed to modern cognitive psychology which explicates mind as a set of functional aspects of material matter (brains) and which therefore denies even the possibility of any such thing as a “disembodied mind”.
While Gould played a very positive role in the defense of evolutionary science, his bourgeois idealist conceptions in psychology led him into major errors in other spheres. It is unfortunate that he was not a more consistent materialist.
The financial rescue of a failing private corporation or bank by a capitalist government. A bourgeois government generally represents the collective interests of the capitalists as a whole, which in most cases should not lead it to bail out some individual bankrupt corporation (since that might lead to higher taxes on other corporations, for example). However, sometimes an individual company will have its own special influence within the government (such as through large “campaign donations” or other forms of bribery), which can lead to special favors on its behalf. And during the monopoly imperialist era many corporations and banks have grown so large that their failure might bring down whole industries or even the entire economy. This leads to the phenomenon of companies that are supposedly “too big to fail” (or too big for the bourgeoisie to allow them to fail). Then too, some individual giant corporations may have strategic importance to the ruling class as a whole, such as manufacturers of tanks, war planes, and advanced computers & electronic gear. For reasons such as these the capitalist government may decide to loan or outright give billions of dollars to particular corporations to keep them going.
Recent (2008-9) examples of massive government bailouts are most of the big financial corporations in America, including CitiCorp, Bank of America, AIG (the world’s largest insurance company), and manufacturers such as General Motors, and Chrysler Corporation.
Bonds or similar entities issued by the government and sold to investors. Marx noted that “These are not capital at all, but merely outstanding claims on the annual product of the nation.” —Marx, Capital, vol. 2, Ch. 17, sect. 2 (International, p. 349; Penguin, p. 353.)]
See also: BOND
GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ENTERPRISE (GSE)
A business which is either officially, or de facto, owned and part of some capitalist government. Examples in the U.S. include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae, which are all nominally independent, but actually at least supported and insured by the government.
GRAMSCI, Antonio (1891-1937)
Italian Communist leader and theoretician. Raised on the impoverished island of Sardinia, a scholarship allowed him to attend Turin University where he was a brilliant student, but where he was also unfortunately strongly influenced by the liberal idealist philosopher, Benedetto Croce. In 1913 he joined the Socialist Party. In 1919 he helped found the left-wing newspaper, L’Ordine Nuovo, and was active in promoting workers’ councils (“Soviets”) in factories, which were inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. He became more and more critical of the reformist ideas of the Socialist Party and helped to form the Communist Party of Italy in 1921. Gramsci was the Italian representative at the meeting of the Third International in Moscow in 1922, and worked for the Comintern in Moscow and Vienna in 1922-24. In 1924 he was elected to the Italian parliament and returned to Italy to became the top leader of the CPI.
Mussolini was now in power, and he and his Fascist regime banned the Communist Party in 1926. Gramsci himself was arrested and spent the rest of his life in prison. Ironically, his great reputation today, especially in Left academia, derives from his time in prison where he wrote 34 notebooks, containing over 2000 printed pages. There are some difficulties in reading these notebooks both because they were just Gramsci’s own notes, with multiple notebooks being worked on simultaneously, and not something written for publication, and because of the prison authorities who prevented him from writing in a way that might be used to “inflame the masses”. This forced Gramsci to frequently write in an academic and obscure style, and to resort to Aesopian language, as when he uses the phrase “modern theory” where he simply means “Marxism”.
Gramsci’s focus in his notebooks on intellectuals and their role in society, and on literature and culture, of course appeals to academics today, and explains in part his continuing popularity there. His discussion of the capitalist state is weak, certainly compared to Lenin’s firm class position on the issue.
Since he was living in a prison in a Fascist country, and the Communist Party was mostly suppressed, he did not think the sort of revolutionary strategy employed by the Bolsheviks in Russia was fully appropriate there. Instead of such a frontal assault (insurrection), he thought there was the necessity of a long-term war of attrition, or a “war of position” (like the trench warfare of World War I), to prepare the way for proletarian revolution. Gramsci’s much discussed notion of hegemony seems to be related to this, the long-term struggle between the ideological hegemony of the ruling class and a hoped for alternative ideological hegemony of the working class forming around its revolutionary party. While in the advanced capitalist countries there is in fact the necessity for laying the groundwork for an eventual revolutionary uprising through patient work of organizing and education over a long period, there is also the danger that in doing so that eventual goal of revolution will become merely window dressing for reformism and revisionism. This perhaps shows why academic revisionists are so attracted to Gramsci: they see this possibility not as a danger at all, but rather more as a welcome perpetual postponement of revolution.
“Pessimism of the Intellect; Optimism of the Will” —A slogan, probably authored by Gramsci himself, which appeared regularly on the masthead of L’Ordine Nuovo, the newspaper he edited.
GREAT CAPITALIST MASS EXTINCTION
The currently intensifying great mass extinction of animals and plants which is being caused primarily by the capitalist system and rule, which values corporate profits far higher than it does the protection of nature and the environment for the continued overall benefit of humanity.
Even most biologists imbued with bourgeois ideology admit that we are already in a period of a great mass extinction of species, but tend to blame this on “humanity” in general, or over-population, or governmental ignorance, etc. In other words, even the liberals among them seldom recognize the systemic causes of this extinction episode, let alone the central responsibility of the capitalist class for it. It is true that excessive human population growth is secondarily to blame for this mass extinction. But by far the most important factor is still that the ruling bourgeoisie just does not give a damn, and while they are in control of world they refuse to take any serious steps to stop this ever-expanding annihilation of plant and animal species. It is already clear that this mass extinction will very likely be one of the greatest in the entire history of the Earth, which includes some very large die-offs many millions of years ago. Indeed, it is not entirely clear whether our own species, Homo sapiens, will survive the capitalist era.
“Populations of plants, insects and birds in the U.K. have dropped precipitously in the past 40 years—more evidence that the world is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The previous one wiped out the dinosaurs.” —Science magazine, March 19, 2004; quoted in Scientific American, May 2004, p. 40.
GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s
A severe and prolonged economic overproduction crisis which broke out in all the capitalist countries and which lasted the entire decade of the 1930s in most of them.
In the U.S. the Great Depression is usually said to have begun with the stock market and financial Crash in the fall of 1929. However, the U.S. economy was already entering what we would now call a recession early in 1929, and the severe conditions we now associate with the Great Depression developed over a several year period, and didn’t reach their worst point until 1933. There was then a small upward trend for several years because of New Deal programs and de facto Keynesian deficits (though they weren’t yet called that). When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt eased off on the deficit financing, the economy again worsened in 1937-1938. As Roosevelt partially learned his lesson, and stepped up the government spending again, the Depression eased a bit after that, but didn’t come to a final end until World War II. For the U.S., therefore, the Depression—from start to finish—should be dated as lasting from 1929 through at least 1940, or about 12 years.
The Great Depression was partially mitigated (or in a few countries such as Germany completely interrupted) by the huge Keynesian deficit spending for public works and war preparations that occurred in most advanced capitalist countries during the 1930s. It was completely interrupted in all the imperialist countries during World War II itself, with the truly massive deficit spending for the war. But it was only the massive destruction of capital during World War II that truly ended the Great Depression and prevented it from resuming after the war. [For more on this, see my essay “False Lessons from the Great Depression”, at http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/False_Lessons.htm.]
See also sub-topics below.
GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s — The Great Unwinding (1929-1933)
Major depressions take a fair amount of time to develop. As mentioned in the general entry above, in the spring of 1929 there was only the beginnings of a fairly mild recession. Even after the financial Crash of 1929 (in the autumn) the immediate condition of the overall economy was still only that of mild to moderate recession. But over the next 4 years the crisis continued to develop and the overall economy continued to seriously decline. Unemployment jumped up from 3.2% in 1929 to 24.9% in 1933. And during this period more than 9,000 banks either suspended operations or completely closed down. A large part of the entire U.S. financial system had in effect collapsed.
“The great severity of the banking crises in the Great Depression is well known to students of the period. The percentages of operating banks which failed in each year from 1930 to 1933 inclusive were 5.6, 10.5, 7.8, and 12.9; because of failures and mergers, the number of banks operating at the end of 1933 was only just above half the number that existed in 1929. Banks that survived experienced heavy losses.” —Ben Bernanke, Essays on the Great Depression (2000), p. 44.
There was a huge amount of debt built up in the U.S. economy during the boom years of
the 1920s, and because of both increased debt and falling incomes during the Depression the
ratio of debt servicing to national income went up from 9% in 1929 to 19.8% in 1932-33. In
a 1934 survey of home owners with mortgages in 22 different cities, the default rate ranged
from a low of 21% (in Richmond, VA) to a high of 62% (in Cleveland). In more than half of
the cities the default rate was above 38%. The percentages of those behind in their rent on
rented properties was even higher. The financial status of farmers was worse still, and by
the beginning of 1933 45% of all U.S. farms were delinquent in their mortgage payments.
State and local governments were also in serious debt trouble, with 37 cities with populations
greater than 30,000 people and 3 states defaulting on their debt by March 1934. [Bernanke,
op. cit., p. 46.]
The strong deflation during the Depression served to amplify the debt burdens (because the debt had to be repaid in currency that had become more valuable and harder to come by). But contrary to the opinions of some bourgeois economists this deflation was not the primary cause of these intensifying problems during the first 4 years of the Depression. Bernanke notes that “Although the deflation of the 1930’s was unusually protracted, there had been a similar episode as recently as 1921-22 which had not led to mass insolvency.” [Ibid., pp. 46-47.]
The situation with corporate profits during this period of the unwinding of the economy into deep depression is interesting. The aggregate corporate profits before taxes were negative in 1931 and 1932, and after-tax retained profits were negative for all the years from 1930 to 1933. However, the biggest corporations (those with more than $50 million in assets) maintained positive profits through this entire period! [Bernanke, ibid.]
The index of industrial production, which stood at 114 in July 1929 gradually fell to just 53 in July 1932, then picked up just slightly for a few months before falling back to 54 in March 1933. Thus industrial production had fallen to less than half its level before the Depression began. [Bernanke, op. cit., pp. 48-49.]
Similar events were occurring in all the other major capitalist countries, though—interestingly—many of them (including Britain and France) did not have major banking crises. Most bourgeois economists are quite puzzled by this fact, since they falsely believe that financial crises were the “cause” of the depression in “the real economy”.
GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s — Relapse of 1937-38 in the U.S.
As mentioned in the main article above about the Great Depression, there was a weak and partial recovery in the U.S. from 1933 until 1937, and then a relapse due to the government cutting back on the budget deficits which had eased the crisis somewhat. This deficit financing was inadequate to actually bring the U.S. economy back to the level it had reached before the Depression began, and when it was cut back the economic decline once again resumed.
“The recovery from the Depression is often described as slow because
America did not return to full employment until after the outbreak of the second world
war. But the truth is the recovery in the four years after Franklin Roosevelt took office
in 1933 was incredibly rapid. Annual real GDP growth averaged over 9%. Unemployment fell
from 25% to 14%. The second world war aside, the United States has never experienced
such sustained, rapid growth.
“However, that growth was halted by a second severe downturn in 1937-38, when unemployment surged again to 19%. The fundamental cause of this second recession was an unfortunate, and largely inadvertent, switch to contractionary fiscal and monetary policy. One source of the growth in 1936 was that Congress had overridden Mr Roosevelt’s veto and passed a large bonus for veterans of the first world war. In 1937, this fiscal stimulus disappeared. In addition, social-security taxes were collected for the first time. These factors reduced the deficit by roughly 2.5% of GDP, exerting significant contractionary pressure.” —Christina Romer, “Economic Focus: The Lessons of 1937”, The Economist, June 20, 2009, p. 82.
[Romer is an American bourgeois economist and supposedly an expert on the Great Depression. Her point about how “rapid” the “recovery” was from 1933-1936 is ridiculous! Of course it could be fairly fast compared to the normal expansion of the economy in boom periods because most of the idle factories still existed and it was simply a matter of putting people back to work through government spending. Romer does mention here some of the means by which the government deficits were reduced in 1937, but she does not mention the even more important reason—that Roosevelt and his advisers simply did not understand the necessity of deficits for keeping the economy going and they were actually trying to reduce them! (This is why Roosevelt vetoed the veteran’s bonus bill.) Romer went on to mention the “contractionary monetary policy” that the Federal Reserve began to follow in 1936, which was also a (small) factor in the ensuing relapse. But this was of much less importance than the contractionary fiscal (deficit) policy, and it is a weakness of her analysis that she seems to put it on a par. And although Romer’s main point in the article is that “fiscal stimulus” (deficits) should not be withdrawn “too soon”, she completely fails to understand that in a developing depression it cannot be withdrawn at all! Indeed, a major part of her article stressed the importance of eventually reducing those deficits! That is, she—along with all Keynesian-school economists—thinks that “the pump can be primed” through fiscal deficits, and the deficits can then be ended. Romer, along with all other bourgeois economists, doesn’t even begin to understand that it was not Keynesian deficits which ended the Great Depression—not even the colossal deficits during World War II itself, but rather the massive destruction of capital during the war that really brought the Depression to an end and kept it from resuming after the end of the war and the end of those huge war deficits. —S.H.]
GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s — In Germany
[To be added...]
“GREAT INFLATION, The” (In the U.S., circa 1968-1982)
A term sometimes used by American economists to refer to a period of rather high inflation (by standards before and after) that occurred in the U.S. from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. There were actually two bursts of inflation during this period, with peaks in 1974 and 1980. After a long period of relatively low inflation (below 3%/year), the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers [CPI-U] picked up to 4% to 6% for most of the years in the 1968-1973 period, as the U.S. imperialists further escalated their expensive war against Vietnam. In 1974 the CPI-U jumped up to 11.0%, then eased off to the 6% to 9% range for several years. The second burst of inflation (due to govenment deficit financing attempting to deal with the first act of the long-developing new economic crisis) pushed the CPI-U to 11.3% in 1979, 13.5% in 1980, and 10.3% in 1981, before easing off again in succeeding years. The phrase “double-digit” inflation comes from this period.
It took a while for the “Great Inflation” to develop, despite the many years of government deficits during the Vietnam War and the developing crisis. But when it did develop it was quite harmful to the U.S. economy. In the same way the vastly larger government deficits in the new millenium (designed to combat the new worsening stage of the economic crisis) will also come back to plague the economy. This will, before too many years, make the so-called “Great Inflation” of the 1968-1982 period seem pretty trivial by comparison!
“GREAT INFLATION, The” (In Japan, 1973-74)
A period of very high inflation in Japan during the early 1970s, the worst year being 1974 with a consumer price rise of nearly 30%. This bout of inflation has most commonly been blamed on the big rise in oil prices with the onset of the “Mideast oil crisis” in October 1973. However, the inflation rate in Japan already reached 10% before the beginning of that crisis and was still on the way up. It therefore seems pretty clear that the primary cause of this “great inflation” was the internal economic policies of the Japanese ruling class: i.e., excessively large government deficits and excessively low interest rates, both for the purpose of keeping the capitalist economy going.
GREAT LEAP FORWARD
A mass campaign in Maoist China launched in late 1958 and designed to swiftly raise China’s economic production and technique, especially in the countryside. While the revolutionary fervor it arose did have a substantial positive effect in some regards, this same fervor—along with inadequate overall supervision of the movement and serious sabotage by capitalist-roaders within the Communist Party—led to some major short-term problems including serious famine in some parts of the country. Local Party officials were frequently reporting bountiful harvests when in fact the harvests were poor. Overall the GLF was not a success either economically or politically, though it was also not quite the unmitigated total disaster that anti-Communist writers have often claimed. It did, however, serve to partially discredit Mao and the CCP in the eyes of the masses for a brief period. The GLF was officially ended in 1961.
“[India] had, in terms of morbidity, mortality and longevity, suffered an excess in mortality over China of close to 4 [million] a year during the same period [of the Great Leap Forward]… Thus, in this one geographical area alone, more deaths resulted from ‘this failed capitalist experiment’ (more than 100 million by 1980) than can be contributed to the ‘failed communist experiment’ all over the world since 1917.” —Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winning economist, quoted in Antony Black, ‘Black propaganda’, Guardian Weekly, Feb. 24, 2000.
“GREAT MEN” [GREAT INDIVIDUALS]
[Intro to be added...]
“In hindsight, we can usually see that if one scientist did not discover a particular law, some other person would have done so within a few months or years of the discovery. Most scientists, as Newton said, stood on the shoulders of giants to see the world just a bit farther along the horizon. In fact, I give a few examples in this book in which more than one individual discovered a law within a few years of one another, but for various reasons, including sheer luck, history sometimes remembers only the more famous discoverer. Readers may enjoy noting the frequency with which this happens in the history of science.” —Clifford Pickover, Archimedes to Hawking (2008), p. 12.
“GREAT MODERATION, The”
A term sometimes used by American bourgeois economists to refer to the period of relatively low inflation and fairly steady (if mostly unimpressive) economic growth in the United States which lasted for a couple decades starting around the mid-1980s. In the 1970s and early 1980s there was a period of stagflation (the “Great Inflation” coupled with economic stagnation), and by that deplorable standard the economic situation in the later 1980s and 1990s was much improved. Of course “moderation” is considered a good thing by bourgeois economists when it comes to inflation, but not so good when it comes to GDP growth; so the term “The Great Moderation” seems to refer mostly to the more moderate levels of inflation during that post-stagflation period.
What was the cause of “The Great Moderation”? Why did things improve for a while? First, the government cut back on its very loose and expansive monetary policy and restrained its Keynesian budget deficits. Second, many American industries “restructured”, i.e., closed unprofitable factories and cut their workforce. Not only were huge numbers of workers layed off, but also many lower and middle-level managers were cut. All of these sorts of things were included under the name of neoliberalism, and amounted especially to a major new assault on the working class. In addition there was a much more rapid increase in consumer debt, which help spur some renewed economic growth for a while.
“The Great Moderation” included one short burst in economic growth associated with the “New Economy” bubble of the late 1990s. But that bubble then burst and there was a recession in 2000-2001. After a very slow and shallow recovery, stoked especially by the rapidly growing housing and financialization bubble, a new recession started at the end of 2007, and became a major financial crisis in the fall of 2008. This marked the complete and final end of anything that could reasonably be called “The Great Moderation”! True, for now inflation is still quite low, but the American and world capitalist economies as a whole are limping along in a very wounded fashion. This will remain the case for the coming immediate period, and will eventually collapse into a much more serious new depression. Moreover, along the way (and because of the continuing massive Keynesian deficit financing), there will be a major return of inflation which will far exceed the levels of the 1970s and 1980s.
GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION (GPCR)
A great revolutionary movement in socialist China during the Mao period which sought, initially, just to transform the cultural and ideological sphere of society, but developed into a full-scale social revolution wherein the revolutionary proletariat and its allies led by Mao overthrew the revisionists and capitalist-roaders who had seized considerable power in the government of China and within the Communist Party of China itself, and which re-established proletarian revolutionary power for a decade.
The peak years of the Cultural Revolution were 1966-69, but the preliminary developments started earlier, and in some respects the GPCR continued until Mao’s death in September 1976. One important article in Peking Review states that “In 1963, under the personal guidance of Chairman Mao, the revolution in literature and art was launched in China, marked mainly by the reform of the dramatic arts; this was, in fact, the beginning of the great proletarian cultural revolution.” [“Carry the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Through to the End”, Peking Review, Jan. 1, 1967, p. 8.] But the GPCR as a truly mass phenomenon began in the spring of 1966. ...
The GPCR consisted of struggle, criticism and repudiation and of transformation: “The struggle to overthrow those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, the criticism and repudiation of the reactionary bourgeois academic ‘authorities’ and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes, and the transformation of education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base.” [ibid., p. 9].
The highest individual target of the GPCR was Liu Shaoqi, who was appropriately labelled “China’s Khrushchev”, and was eventually dismissed from his positions and expelled from the CCP. But contrary to Western bourgeois analyses, the GPCR was not just about getting rid of a few revisionists like Liu; its goal and purpose was to change Chinese socialist society so that people like Liu could not arise and achieve high power in the Party and government in the first place.
[More to be added... ]
See also entries below.
GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION — Ultimate Failure Of
While Mao still lived, the GPCR was successful in preventing the capitalist roaders from taking over completely, and managed to both push many of their top leaders like Liu Shaoqi from power and to re-educate and revolutionize millions of Party members and ordinary people, at least to a considerable degree. For a time it appeared that the CCP was truly transformed, and that—for a long period at least—no revisionists could possibly rise to power in the Party or government. But then, immediately following Mao’s death, the staunchest anti-revisionists (including the “Gang of Four”) were purged and arrested. There ensued a short interegnum in which the stage was set for the return to power of Deng Xiaoping, the second most important capitalist roader after Liu. And then Deng did in fact lead China back to capitalism.
How was it possible for this disaster to happen? What were the weaknesses and shortcomings of the GPCR which led to its ultimate failure? These are extremly important questions that every revolutionary Marxist must seriously work to answer so as to prevent any similar disaster from occurring again.
[More to be added... ]
GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION — Violence In
As revolutions go, the GPCR was relatively peaceful. But there was some violence that occurred during the course of it, most of which was instigated among young Red Guards by the reactionaries in order to discredit the revolution. The 16-points guidelines laid down by Mao and the CCP Central Committee in May 1966 explicitly stated that the method to be used was that of reason and persuasion, and that coercion and violence were not to be used.
“The most important plot and scheme of the very small number of persons who stubbornly persist in the bourgeois reactionary line is to incite the masses to struggle against each other. They have secretly organized and manipulated some people and mass organizations, whom they have hoodwinked, to suppress the revolution, protect themselves, and to provoke conflicts in which coercion or force are used in a vain attempt to create confusion. They spread rumors, turned black into white and shifted the blame for the evil they had done behind people’s backs on to the proletarian revolutionaries, labelling the latter with the ‘bourgeois reactionary line.’” —“Carry the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Through to the End”, an editorial summing up the GPCR in 1966 and laying out its goals for 1967, Peking Review, vol. 10, #1, Jan. 1, 1967, p. 10.
The most common name for the severe recession in the United States and the entire capitalist world, which is generally said to have begun in the U.S. in December 2007, and intensified in the form of a financial crisis in the fall of 2008. As the bourgeoisie measures such things, this recession lasted 18 months and ended in June 2009. However, most of the serious aspects of this recession (including extremely high unemployment) still continue. This recession became the most serious overproduction crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, but bourgeois ideologists refused to call it the beginnings of a new depression! [From early 2008 I have predicted that this “Great Recession” will, however, prove to be merely the first stage of a much deeper and prolonged overproduction crisis that will definitely be called a depression eventually. —S.H.]
Bourgeois economists say that the nadir of the Great Recession occurred in the early summer of 2009, and that production (GDP) began to expand again at that point. (The bourgeoisie generally considers recessions to be “over” if GDP begins to expand again, even if production is still far below the peak reached before the recession began. By this “logic”, if the economy declines by 4% and then later expands by just 1% the recession is “over”!) And of course the bourgeoisie gives little importance to the unemployment rate or the general economic condition of the people in determining when recessions supposedly “end”. As of the autumn of 2010 even the official unemployment rate (which doesn’t count a large part of those actually unemployed) is still double what it was when the Great Recession began. Nevertheless, in September 2010 the National Bureau of Economic Research, which American bourgeois economists grant the authorization to decide such things, declared that this Great Recession ended in June 2009. Any new downturn, they said, would be counted as a totally different recession.
In the U.S. the Great Recession was initially reported by the government as a decline of GDP of 3.83%. In mid-2010 the government revised these figures, stating that GDP had actually decline by 4.15% by mid 2009. This is the deepest GDP decline since the short but sharp recession in 1946 at the time the U.S. was converting from war production in World War II.
The so-called “recovery” from the Great Recession was already weakening by mid-summer 2010, and even some bourgeois economists were saying that a “double-dip” or new recession appeared to be looming. Whatever they call it, it is certainly clear that this overall overproduction crisis has not even fully developed yet.
GREENSPAN, Alan (1926- )
American bourgeois economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. Greenspan was a longtime disciple of the notorious bourgeois philosopher of self-interest and selfishness, Ayn Rand. He even authored several essays in her book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, including one defending the gold standard.
As Chairman of the Fed, Greenspan mostly promoted the expansion of credit bubbles, and all sorts of risky behavior by investors and ordinary people. In one speech in February 2004, he promoted the very dangerous adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) for home buyers, that now are a major factor in many of them losing their homes. At the time of his speech interest rates were very low and were bound to rise later. In fact, just a few months after the speech Greenspan himself, as head of the Fed, began massively raising interest rates, which had the effect of hugely increasing mortgage payments for those with ARMs. The inability of many home “owners” to keep up with their adjustable rate mortgage payments is considered to be one of the major factors bringing the subprime mortgage crisis to a head in 2007-2008.
In another speech, in April 2005, Greenspan openly praised the rise of the subprime mortgage industry:
“Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants. Such developments are representative of the market responses that have driven the financial services industry throughout the history of our country … With these advances in technology, lenders have taken advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers. … Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending; indeed, today subprime mortgages account for roughly 10 percent of the number of all mortgages outstanding, up from just 1 or 2 percent in the early 1990s.” —Alan Greenspan, “Consumer Finance”, April 8, 2005. Federal Reserve System’s Fourth Annual Community Affairs Research Conference. Federal Reserve Board.
This wondrous new subprime mortgage industry began to collapse in March 2007, and led
to the more general financial crisis of the fall of 2008. Thus Greenspan is appropriately
criticized for his role in the collapse of the housing bubble and for “engineering” that
housing bubble to begin with. However, it is true that if Greenspan had not engineered
that new bubble, the economy would simply have begun collapsing a few years sooner than
it did. Under capitalism it is only bubbles that keep the
economy going! Thus the basic fault here lies not with individuals like Greenspan, but
with the capitalist system of production itself.
Nevertheless, it is true that Greenspan promoted all sorts of highly risky financial behavior that was bound to come crashing down eventually. He never met a new type of derivative that he didn’t like. He didn’t really believe in any form of regulation, and when potential problems were pointed out he often recommended “self-regulation” (i.e., no regulation of Wall Street at all). But the financial crisis in the fall of 2008 did shake him a bit.
Referring to his free-market ideology, Greenspan said: “I have found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact.” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) then pressed him to clarify his words. “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working,” Waxman said. “Absolutely, precisely,” Greenspan replied. “You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.” [From the Wikipedia article on Greenspan, as of 8/28/09. Greenspan went on to admit his error in opposing the regulation of derivatives and also admitted that financial institutions were not protecting investors as well as he expected. But what he refused to budge on was his general faith in the “free market” and the capitalist system in general, which are the real sources of all these financial and economic problems. Bourgeois economists are simply unable to learn the most essential lessons!]
As for Mr [Paul] Samuelson’s friend of 50 years, Alan Greenspan, once
chairman of the Federal Reserve, “the trouble is that he had been an Ayn Rander”—a
devotee of laissez-faire capitalism. “You can take the boy out of the cult but you
can’t take the cult out of the boy,” Mr Samuelson told the Atlantic [magazine]
this summer. “He actually had [an] instruction, probably pinned on the wall: ‘Nothing
from this office should go forth which discredits the capitalist system. Greed is
good.’” [From The Economist, Dec. 19, 2009, p. 130.]
GRESHAM’S LAW GREYHOUNDS GROSS CAPITAL FORMATION GROSS DOMESTIC INCOME (GDI) “By the light of GDI, the American economy looks a bit more pallid.
According to the income measure, activity slowed at a 7.3% annual rate in the fourth
quarter of 2008. GDP, meanwhile, recorded a 5.4% drop. And in the third quarter of 2009 ...
GDI continued to contract while GDP notched up the increase that led many economists to
announce the end of the recession. GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP) GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT — Declining Growth Rates Of GROSS NATIONAL INCOME (GNI) GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT (GNP) GSE GUATEMALA GUESDE, Jules (1845-1922) GUESDISTS “Guesdists—followers of Jules Guesde
and Paul Lafargue. They constituted a Left Marxist trend that stood for the independent
revolutionary politics of the French proletariat. They retained the name of Workers’
Party of France and remained true to the Havre Party Programme adopted in 1880, the
theoretical part of which was written by Marx. They had considerable influence in French
industrial centers and united the progressive elements of the French working class. In
1901 the Guesdists founded the Socialist Party of France.” —Footnote 46, Lenin: SW I (1967). GUEVARA, Ernesto “Che” (1928-67) GUOMINDANG (GMD) [Old Style: KUOMINTANG (KMT)] Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index MASSLINE.ORG Home Page
“Bad money drives out good money.” Originally put forward when there were gold and silver coins in circulation, where the idea was that people will first spend the coins where some of the gold or silver was shaved off, and tend to hang on to the coins in better condition. This observation has been generalized to many modern “financial instruments” in capitalist society, where, for example, even if two assets have the same nominal value, people will preferentially tend to hang on to those assets which they think have the greater inherent value.
An elite paramilitary commando force in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and other states in eastern India, which was created in 1989 in order to suppress the Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries). Over the past 5 years, through their ruthlessness and attacks on the population, they have caused a temporary setback to the revolution in the one state of Andhra Pradesh. The greyhounds are one of the highest paid police forces in all of India, even better paid than the elite National Security Guard. Much of their success in A.P. in the 2004-2009 period, however, has been due to a combination of violence toward the people and secret paid informants at the village level. The Greyhound force numbers around 2,500, and usually moves in small bands of 15-25 commandos. They are specially trained for deep forest pursuit and combat. However, they can also be defeated by the revolutionary forces. In July 2008, 35 elite Greyhound commandos on a motor launch were attacked and killed by revolutionaries in Orissa state, which was a huge setback to their operations.
The amount spent during some given period (such as one year) on new fixed productive assets in the economy. However, in current bourgeois usage this is a somewhat broader category which includes not only new fixed productive assets (such as factories, machinery, mines, transportation and communication facilities, etc.), but also schools, hospitals, offices for non-productive workers, and private residential dwellings. It should always be kept in mind that the bourgeois concept of capital differs to some degree from the Marxist concept!
The total wages, profits and taxes within the economy of a country or region for a given period (often one year). In theory this is equal to the Gross Domestic Product (see entry below), but is measured independently and often the two figures differ considerably. Many of the economists who pay close attention to such things now believe that trends in GDI provide a better indication than trends in GDP for the short-term direction of the overall economy.
“The picture painted by GDI throughout the downturn is one of an economy substantially weaker than indicated by GDP: one more in line with the employment data and with the experience of most Americans.” —The Economist, “Unemployment Figures: Slow Going”, March 13, 2010, p. 36.
The total value (expressed in dollars or some other currency) of all the goods and services produced and sold within an economy during a given period (usually one year).
A more formal definition of the term, as used by the World Bank, is: “The sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the value of the products. It is calculated using purchaser prices and without deductions for the depreciation of fabricated assets or for the depletion and degradation of natural resources.”
See also: GLOBAL GDP
The growth rate of GDP has fallen overall in all the advanced capitalist countries ever since the early 1970s. Roughly speaking, the growth rate has been less than half of what it was during the previous quarter century period (the post-World War II boom).
But in addition to this overall qualitative drop in the growth rate of GDP, there has also been a roughly continuous fall in GDP growth from decade to decade since the 1940s. The graph at the right shows this for the United States. [More to be added...]
The World Bank Atlas (2004) defines GNI as “GDP plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from abroad.” However, strictly speaking, GNI is actually Gross Domestic Income plus net receipts from abroad. So in theory GNI is equivalent to GNP, though it is measured independently and may therefore differ somewhat.
Gross Domestic Product together with net property income from abroad. A generation ago GNP was used as the primary overall statistic by the U.S. government in describing its economy and those of other nations. Since the U.S. was receiving tremendous income from abroad, referring to GNP rather than GDP made the U.S. internal economy look better than it was. However, as other countries began to receive more and more income from the property their capitalists own in the U.S., this statistical advantage began to disappear. So the U.S. switched over to the system that other countries were using, discussing its economy in terms of GDP rather than GNP.
See: GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ENTERPRISE
[To be added... ]
See also: ARBENZ GUZMÁN, Jacobo
One of the founders and leaders of the Socialist Party of France and of the Second International. Before World War I he led the the Left wing of the Socialist Party, but at the beginning of the war he entered the French bourgeois government. (See also GUESDISTS below.)
The Left socialists in France during the period before World War I.
Famous Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who played an important role in the Cuban Revolution, and through a firm internationalist perspective attempted to help promote revolutions throughout the world. While in many respects a great and appropriately honored revolutionary, some of his political views and theories were seriously wrong, and even led to disaster both for others and himself. (See: FOCO THEORY.)
In 1951 Che took a year off from his medical studies and travelled around South America on a motorcycle. He later wrote up his experiences in his Motorcycle Diaries, eventually made into a well-known and excellent film. Che was transformed by the horrible poverty and conditions of the people that he saw on this trip, and soon came to understand that the great inequalities of wealth in Latin America were due to the domination of capitalism, neocolonialism and imperialism. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1953.
Che participated in the social reform program of the government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala, and the 1954 CIA-organized overthrow of that democratically elected government further radicalized him.
Che met Fidel Castro in Mexico and joined his 26th of July Movement. He was with Castro in December 1956 when they “invaded” Cuba and then set up guerrilla operations in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Che played an important leading role in the two years of low-level guerrilla warfare in Cuba. This guerrilla warfare was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the Batista dictatorship around January 1, 1959.
Che also played an important role in the first years of the Cuban revolutionary government. He served at various times as Minister of Industry, president of the national bank, and a high-level Cuban diplomat. He played an important role in agreeing to bring Soviet nuclear-armed missiles to Cuba, about which President John F. Kennedy and U.S. imperialism came very close to starting a nuclear world war.
While Castro tended to lean toward Soviet revisionist ideology (as well as toward the Soviet Union for economic support and military protection), Che was more ambivalent and on a few questions took a position closer to that of Maoism. Che always firmly upheld the need for revolutionary armed struggle, though it seems he did not fully appreciate the importance of the peasantry in Third World countries. However, for him moral incentives under socialism were much more important than material incentives. He argued that it was necessary to work toward forging a new political consciousness, or toward creating a “new man”, as a means of promoting socialist production, whereas revisionists typically argue that production must be hugely expanded first before any progress toward creating a “new man” can be achieved (or even be seriously attempted).
Perhaps partly because of the intensifying Sino-Soviet split and Castro’s siding with the revisionists, Che gradually became more and more disatisfied with his role in the Cuban government. Finally, in 1965 he resigned from all roles in that government and first headed off to the Congo (Kinshasa) in Africa to participate in revolutionary guerrilla warfare there. After that failed, he headed to South America, and made another attempt at his foco strategy in Bolivia. This failed even more disastrously. In 1967 Che was captured by the Bolivian Army (with the help of the CIA), and was then secretly tortured and executed. It was the sad end to the life of a sincere and dedicated revolutionary.
But even in death, Che Guevara still serves the world revolution as an honored and respected martyr. He is perhaps as famous and influential today as he has been at any time since the late 1960s.
See also the important 1985 essay, “Guevara, Debray, and Armed Revisionism”, by Lenny Wolff, at http://www.bannedthought.net/Cuba-Che/Guevara/Guevara-Debray-Wolff.pdf for a strongly critical appraisal of Che, Régis Debray, and focoism.
The Nationalist Party in China. It was organized in 1912 by Sun Yat-sen and became a major bourgeois nationalist political force in China. After Sun Yat-sen died, Chiang Kai-shek became its dominant leader in 1928, and after that the Party took on more and more of a comprador and big bureaucrat capitalist character. The GMD, in control of the government of China, waged war against the Communist Party of China for decades and was defeated and expelled from the mainland in 1949. For decades after that it still retained power in Taiwan.
GROSS CAPITAL FORMATION
GROSS DOMESTIC INCOME (GDI)
“By the light of GDI, the American economy looks a bit more pallid.
According to the income measure, activity slowed at a 7.3% annual rate in the fourth
quarter of 2008. GDP, meanwhile, recorded a 5.4% drop. And in the third quarter of 2009 ...
GDI continued to contract while GDP notched up the increase that led many economists to
announce the end of the recession.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP)
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT — Declining Growth Rates Of
GROSS NATIONAL INCOME (GNI)
GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT (GNP)
GUESDE, Jules (1845-1922)
“Guesdists—followers of Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue. They constituted a Left Marxist trend that stood for the independent revolutionary politics of the French proletariat. They retained the name of Workers’ Party of France and remained true to the Havre Party Programme adopted in 1880, the theoretical part of which was written by Marx. They had considerable influence in French industrial centers and united the progressive elements of the French working class. In 1901 the Guesdists founded the Socialist Party of France.” —Footnote 46, Lenin: SW I (1967).
GUEVARA, Ernesto “Che” (1928-67)
GUOMINDANG (GMD) [Old Style: KUOMINTANG (KMT)]
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