Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Hi - Hn   —


“HIC RHODUS, HIC SALTUS!”
[Latin: “Here is Rhodes, here is where you jump!”] An epigram which is the traditional Latin translation of the punchline from Aesop’s fable
The Boastful Athlete . It is quoted by Hegel and then by Marx, and references the story of a man who boasted that when he was in Rhodes he performed a tremendous athletic leap that was witnessed there. The epigram calls his bluff: “OK, let’s say this is Rhodes; let’s see you jump here and now!” The idea is that we don’t want to just hear you tell of all the wonders you can do, we want to see them for ourselves!
        Hegel also gave a version of the same idea in German which translates roughly as: “Here is the rose, here is where the dance should be.” Marx quotes the epigram in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and also in the last sentence of Chapter 5 in Capital.
        For a longer and more thorough explanation see: http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/h/i.htm

HIDDEN-VARIABLES INTERPRETATION (of Quantum Mechanics)
The view that while
quantum mechanics correctly describes the probabilities affecting the behavior of particles in the micro-world based on the average behavior of individual particles, that there are nevertheless specific cause-and-effect processes at work which determine the behavior of each individual particle. Since these specific and deterministic causes are not yet known to us, they are called “hidden-variables”. This interpretation of quantum mechanics is, therefore, a materialist one (as opposed to the notorious Copenhagen Interpretation and the Many-Worlds Theory).
        Albert Einstein promoted the Hidden-Variables theory: “I am quite convinced that someone will eventually come up with a theory whose objects, connected by laws, are not probabilities but considered facts.” [Quoted in Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way (1988).]

HIGGS BOSON
An elementary particle, according to the
“Standard Model” of contemporary particle physics, and the last such centrally important particle to be discovered (in 2012). The Higgs boson is said to be the elementary particle “associated with a field that imparts mass to some of the other fundamental particles.” [“The Higgs Boson”, Science, vol. 338, p. 1558, Dec. 21, 2012.] It is also characterized as the “quantum excitation of the Higgs field”. However, while it is called an “elementary particle”, it is also said that it can decay into other elementary particles, such as into a “bottom quark” and a “bottom anti-quark” pair. [How a supposed “elementary particle” can decay into other elementary particles seems quite mysterious to us laymen, of course!]
        There was a tremendous amount of hype associated with the search for and discovery of the Higgs boson, much of it of a religious or quasi-religious nature. With the encouragement of at least some idealist physicists it was popularly called the “God particle” in the press. As far as we can tell, precisely how the Higgs field (or boson) supposedly gives rise to mass has not yet been very intelligibly explained, nor is it clear that this is not merely an alternative and far more complex and obscure way of talking about something that has traditionally simply been assumed as a fundamental physical concept—namely, mass. —S.H.
        See also: BOSON

“HIGH-YIELD DEBT”
A common euphemism in contemporary bourgeois financial circles for
junk bonds, thus making these highly risky investments more attractive to suckers (“investors”).

HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING — U.S.
The long developing economic crisis of capitalism took a major turn for the worse beginning in 2008. This has affected more and more aspects of society. In the chart at the right, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, we see just one of the ways in which American education has been slashed because of the crisis, and the resolve of the ruling class to take out the crisis on the backs of the people rather than trim their record corporate profits. Only two states have been able to increase their higher education funding per student during this period, the two small states that have a (temporary) oil-shale boom.

“In the past five years, state cuts to higher education funding have been severe and almost universal. After adjusting for inflation:
         •   States are spending $2,353 or 28 percent less per student on higher education, nationwide, in the current 2013 fiscal year than they did in 2008, when the recession hit.
         •   Every state except for North Dakota and Wyoming is spending less per student on higher education than they did prior to the recession.
         •   In many states the cuts over the last five years have been remarkably deep. Eleven states have cut funding by more than one-third per student, and two states — Arizona and New Hampshire — have cut their higher education spending per student in half.”
         —
“Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come”, by Phil Oliff, et al., of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 19, 2013. [The report goes on to point out that these cuts have led to huge increases in tuition costs, layoffs of large numbers of college teachers, reductions in courses offered, and other long-lasting harm to higher education in the U.S.]

HIJAB   [Arabic]
1. A woman’s head scarf.
2. The doctrine among many Muslims that women should be required to dress very conservatively, often carried even to the male chauvinist extreme of demanding that women cover every inch of their body and completely hide their bodily form, as with the tent-like garment called the
burqa.

HILFERDING, Rudolf   (1877-1941)
A prominent Austrian-German semi-Marxist economist and social-democratic (
revisionist) theoretician and politician, known especially for his 1910 book, Finance Capital, which Lenin made extensive use of in preparing his important work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. For a discussion of Hilferding’s book, see the separate entry for Finance Capital.
        Though trained as a medical doctor, Hilferding shifted more and more into writing for the Social-Democratic publications of Austria and Germany, especially on economic subjects. Karl Kautsky was his mentor, and Hilferding became one of the top leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany.
        In response to Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s bourgeois attack on Marxist economics, Hilferding wrote a widely read defense of Marx. But in other writings he disagreed with the many suggestions in Marx that capitalism might eventually suffer a catastrophic economic breakdown. Later on he carried that questionable opinion to a really ridiculous extreme when he suggested that modern finance capitalism, in the form of monopolistic trusts and cartels, had (or would soon) become “so organized” that it should be able to eliminate economic crises entirely! (See: “Organized Capitalism”) This showed that his understanding of the causes of capitalist economic crises was also incorrect. (He was a partisan of the falling rate of profit theory of economic crises.) However many of his conceptions of how capitalism had changed in the imperialist era, which he discussed at length in Finance Capital, were indeed basically correct.
        After the defeat of Germany in World War I and the removal of the Kaiser (emperor), Hilferding was on two occasions the Finance Minister in the bourgeois social-democratic governments, including during the period of hyper-inflation, which he and the government were quite inept at dealing with. These Social-Democratic governments were also responsible for the policies that led to the murder of many genuine communist revolutionaries, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.
        Since Hilferding was a Jew (and at least nominally a “socialist”), he had to flee Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. He lived in Denmark, Switzerland and then France, where he was arrested and turned over to the Gestapo (German political police) during World War II. He died in 1941 while in their custody, almost certainly murdered by them.

HINDUTVA
A reactionary Hindu nationalist. In India there is a federation of Hindutva groups called the Sangh Parivar, which strongly leans towards fascism. Included in this federation are the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers Organization, or RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (“Indian People’s Party”, or BJP), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, or VHP), and the Bajrang Dal (the youth wing of the VHP). Gangs of individuals from these groups often operate as fascist thugs and attack not only communist revolutionaries, but also people adhering to different religions including Muslims and Christians.

HINTON, Joan   (1921-2010)
American physicist who abandoned physics in outraged disgust after the U.S. used the atomic bomb to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, and who later became a Maoist and farmworker in China. She was the youngest scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project which produced the first atomic bombs, but was heartsick after the U.S. totally unnecessarily used the bombs to murder hundreds of thousands of civilians in Japan. She became an outspoken peace activist and opponent of nuclear weapons.
        In 1948 Hinton went to China on what was initially intended to be just a prolonged visit. But she remained there the rest of her life, living in a rural cooperative and then in a village connected with a state farm. Together with her husband, Erwin Engst, an American dairy-cattle expert, she designed and constructed continuous-flow milk pasteurizers and other farm machinery. She was an ardent supporter of the Chinese revolution and Mao Zedong, and didn’t waver in her revolutionary enthusiasm. In 2008 she said: “Of course I was 100 percent behind everything that happened in the Cultural Revolution. It was a terrific experience.”
        Joan Hinton’s brother was the well-known writer about revolutionary China, William Hinton. (See below.)

HINTON, William   (1919-2004)
[To be added... ]

HISTORICAL MATERIALISM
The basic Marxist view of the history and general characteristics of human society as expressed in this quotation from Engels:

“I hope even British respectability will not be overly shocked if I I use, in English as well as in so many other languages, the term ‘historical materialism’, to designate that view of the course of history which seeks the ultimate cause and the great moving power of all important historic events in the economic development of society, in the changes in the modes of production and exchange, in the consequent division of society into distinct classes, and in the stuggles of these classes against one another.” —Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Introduction to the English Edition, (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1975), pp. 23-24.

Thus historical materialism is Marxist social science; the science of society including its most general laws and features, its origin, the motive forces leading to its change and development; the application of dialectical materialism to society. A somewhat more elaborated list of the principles of historical materialism includes (but is by no means limited to) the following important points:
        1) That human society and history can be understood scientifically;
        2) That, however, material production is the basis of social life, and social consciousness is the result of social being;
        3) That people tend to believe that which is in their own material interests to believe;
        4) But that the dominant ideas of any age are those of the ruling class;
        5) That society and history are made by the people, by the masses of human beings;
        6) That, however, the prevailing mode of production conditions and sets limits to the changes which can be made in society at any given time;
        7) That human society is composed of social classes defined primarily by the relationships of different groups of people to the means of production;
        8) That the history of society, since classes first developed in ancient times, is the history of class struggle;
        9) That “at a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production.... From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into fetters” [Marx, Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Peking: 1976), pp. 3-4.];
        10) That “at that point an era of social revolution begins” [Marx, ibid.];
        11) That society must ultimately progress to the stage of communism where classes have ceased to exist;
        12) That between capitalism and communism there must be an intervening transition period (socialism), which can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
        There are whole areas of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory which are really subsidiary parts of historical materialism. One such is the MLM theory of ethics based on class interests; another such sphere is the mass line theory of revolutionary leadership.
        In social science (properly so called), historical materialism is the central organizing theory, and very little in society makes any sense except in terms of it. The fact that (for ideological reasons) so few people in the U.S. today are at all acquainted with historical materialism thus explains why so many are utterly perplexed by what is happening in the social world all around them. Society, rich & poor, economic crises, politics in general, international wars, and so forth, are all quite mysterious to them because they lack this central organizing theory to make sense of it all.
        See also: SOCIAL SCIENCE

HISTORICAL MATERIALISM   [Book by Bukharin]
Nikolai Bukharin was reputed to be one of the leading theoreticians (after Lenin, of course) of the Bolshevik Party. In 1919 Bukharin and Yevgeni Preobrazhensky wrote a book called The ABC of Communism which was a commentary on, and a much more detailed exposition of, the Bolshevik Party programme adopted at the Eighth Party Congress in March of that year. That volume was meant to explain the Programme, its social context, and the reasons why it said what it did, to the workers and rank-and-file members of the Party. Just how good it was in doing this is open to debate. In any case, in 1921 Bukharin published his book Historical Materialism, which covered a lot of the same topics but in a much more abstract and theoretical sort of way. On the whole, this is a less successful and more philosophically and theoretically dubious book than the earlier volume.
        While this book is called Historical Materialism, it does not do a very good job of bringing out and emphasizing the main principles of historical materialism [see entry above]. Bukharin took bourgeois sociology seriously, and studied it extensively. As his liberal bourgeois sympathizer, Alfred Meyer, notes, Bukharin “sought to read, digest and incorporate in his writings a great deal of contemporary bourgeois sociology”. This book shows that strong tendency, and it is in effect sort of a blend of Marxist points of view and bourgeois sociological views and ways of presenting things. This leads to a lot of verbiage, with the central ideas of historical materialism being somewhat lost or greatly deemphasized. Bukharin does criticize many specific statements by bourgeois sociologists, but at the same time he still takes their writings seriously overall and himself adopts many of their same modes of thinking.
        Even Bukharin’s presentation of important Marxist ideas is done in an inept way. For example, his chapter on classes and class struggle comes at the very end of the book, when that should really be a much stronger central theme throughout the work.
        Instead, a major theme throughout the book (and not just in the chapter on dialectical materialism) is Bukharin’s highly dubious equilibrium theory. His weak understanding of dialectics comes out in other ways as well, as in chapter VII where he presents four stages of revolution as being sequential, when in fact the “mental revolution”, the “political revolution”, the “economic revolution” and the “technical revolution” must quite clearly interpenetrate each other to considerable degrees. Other serious philosophical errors also occur in the book, as for example his treatment at several points of the very important concept of interests as being only a psychological question, and not an issue of what objectively benefits people. [Cf. p. 149 in the Ann Arbor paperback edition.] In general, the discussion of ethics is quite weak.
        Bukharin’s Historical Materialism was viewed as an important presentation and defense of Marxist theory back in the 1920s, both in the Soviet Union and around the world. After that time, however, the book was pretty much forgotten, and this is just as well. Overall, students of MLM will miss little or nothing of value if they just skip this book. —S.H.

HISTORICISM
[In the sense used and wrongly criticized by
Karl Popper:] The view that history has a pattern, that laws or trends underlie its development, and that at least to some degree the future may be predicted and shaped once these patterns or laws are recognized.
        See also: ANTI-HISTORICISM

HISTORY — As the Story of the Rich and Powerful

“The history of a nation is, unfortunately, too easily written as the history of its dominant class.” —Kwame Nkrumah, Consciencism (NY: MR Press, 1964), p. 63.

HISTORY — As Comedy

“History is thorough and goes through many phases when carrying an old form to the grave. The last phases of a world-historical form is its comedy.” —Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction (1843-44).

HISTORY — Made by Human Beings

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” —Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch01.htm




Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index

MASSLINE.ORG Home Page