“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 absurd 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).]
“According to such a theory, the probabilities of quantum theory are due
only to our ignorance of the whole universe, and the probabilities give way to definite
outcomes at the level of the universe as a whole. The quantum uncertainties originate when
the cosmological theory is truncated to describe a small part of the universe.
“Such a theory has been called a hidden variables theory, because the quantum uncertainties are resolved by information about the universe which is hidden to the experimenter working on an isolated quantum system. Theories of this kind have been proposed and give predictions for quantum phenomena which agree with those of quantum physics. So we know that, at least in principle, this kind of resolution of the problems of quantum mechanics is possible.” —Lee Smolin, Time Reborn (2013), p. 155. [Note: While Smolin, like almost all physicists in contemporary bourgeois society, is burdened with many aspects of idealist philosophy, what he says in this passage and the one below seem generally correct. —S.H.]
“So I side with Einstein. I believe there is an objective physical reality
and that something describable happens as an electron jumps from one energy level of an atom
into another. I then seek a theory to give this description.
“The first hidden-variables theory was presented by Prince Louis de Broglie in 1927 at an iconic gathering of quantum physicists called the Fifth Solvay Conference, shortly after quantum mechanics was put in final form. It was inspired by the duality between wave and particle that Einstein had suggested... De Broglie’s theory resolved the conundrum of wave and particle in a way that is simplicity itself. He posited that there is a real particle and a real wave. Both have material existence....
“Nonetheless, de Broglie’s picture of a quantum world where particles and waves are both real did not catch on. In 1932, the great mathematician John von Neumann published a book in which he [claimed he] proved that hidden variables were impossible. A few years later, a young German mathematician named Grete Hermann pointed out that von Neumann’s proof had a big hole in it. He had apparently committed the fallacy of assuming what he wanted to prove and had fooled himself and others by cloaking the assumption in a technical axiom. But her paper was ignored.
“It took two decades for the error to be rediscovered. The American quantum physicist David Bohm wrote a textbook on quantum mechanics in the early 1950s. Ruminating on the mysteries of quantum theory, he reinvented de Broglie’s hidden variables theory—of which he had been ignorant. He wrote a paper describing the new quantum theory, but when he submitted it to a journal he received a referee report rejecting the paper because it disagreed with von Neumann’s well-known proof of the impossibility of hidden variables. Bohm quickly found the error in the proof and wrote a paper pointing it out. Since then, the de Broglie-Bohm approach to quantum mechanics—as it is now called—has been pursued by a small number of specialists; it is one of the approaches to the foundations of quantum theory still actively pursued today.
“With the de Broglie-Bohm theory, we understand that hidden-variables theories are a possible option for the solution of the puzzles of quantum theory. Its study has proved useful, because many of its features have been shown to apply to any possible hidden-variables theory.
“The de Broglie-Bohm theory has an ambivalent relationship to relativity theory. The statistical predictions it makes agree with quantum mechanics... [But] to the extent that we take the de Broglie-Bohm hidden-variables theory as an explanation for quantum phenomena, we have to believe that there is a preferred observer, whose clocks measure a preferred notion of physical time.
“This ambiguous relationship with relativity turns out to extend to any possible hidden variables theory.” —Lee Smolin, ibid., pp. 157-9.
[From the materialist point of view, if the hidden-variables theory of quantum mechanics forces us to abandon one of the more counter-intuitive claims of relativity theory, so much the better! —S.H.]
“HIDE YOUR AMBITIONS AND BUILD YOUR CAPABILITY”
A strategic admonition from the Warring States Period in Chinese history about how a rising power should try to lull to sleep the existing dominant power (or hegemon) while simultaneously building up its own strength. The Chinese expression is tao guang yang hui, which literally means “hiding brightness, nourishing obscurity”, but which can also be translated as “Hide your final goal while building up your forces”. This was a favorite saying of the capitalist-roader in chief, Deng Xiaoping, in his plan to build up China as a competing capitalist-imperialist power which would one day surpass the United States.
See also: HUNDRED-YEAR MARATHON
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 AND MIGHTY, The
“High are the mighty
When close to you
difficult to reach
When talking to you
hard of hearing
Graceful are the mighty
leaning towards you
When you lean back
you fall ...
—From Jan Myrdal, Confessions of a Disloyal European (1968), p 97.
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.]
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.
See also: ULTRA-IMPERIALISM
HIMMLER, Heinrich (1900-1945)
A top-ranking member of the Nazi Party of Germany and the German government during the Nazi era. He was Reichsführer (top leader) of the notorious SS (Schutzstaffel or “Protection Squadron”), and later also in charge of all German police (including the Gestapo [Secret State Police]) and Minister of the Interior. As such, Himmler was one of the most powerful and ruthless men in Nazi Germany. Hitler placed him in charge of the concentration camps and extermination camps of “The Holocaust”, in which an estimated 6 million Jews were murdered along with hundreds of thousands of Romani (“Gypsies”) and many others. The total number of civilians killed in cold blood by the Nazi regime is estimated to be between 11 and 14 million people, the largest number being Polish or Soviet citizens. Agencies directed by Himmler were responsible for most of these murders.
After being captured by British forces near the end of World War II, Himmler committed suicide.
“When Himmler arrived for the party at the company villa [in July
1942], [the local businessman Eduard] Schulte was still unaware of the horrific reason
he had come to Auschwitz. Himmler was there to witness one of the camp’s new gas chambers,
a white brick cottage known as ‘Bunker 2,’ in action. That afternoon Himmler watched as
a group of 449 Jewish prisoners, recently transported from Holland, were marched into
Bunker 2 and gassed with Zyklon B, the pesticide produced by IG Farben. The execution
process took a full twenty minutes, and the victims’ frantic death cries could be heard
even through the chamber’s thick walls. Afterward, the bodies were dragged from the
building by camp orderlies wearing gas masks and thrown into nearby incinerators. One
of the triumphs of German engineering was to devise a convenient incineration process
whereby the burning of the corpses provided the heat for the furnaces. Fritz Sander, the
engineer who invented the system, later lamented the fact that he could not patent his
creation because it was considered a state secret.
“Himmler observed the grotesque procedure unfold that afternoon in ‘total silence,’ according to Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss. Later on, at the villa, he showed little strain from his day’s chores. The Reichsführer broke from his austere routine by enjoying a cigar and a glass of red wine. In deference to the female guests, the details of his camp tour were not discussed.” —David Talbot, Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (2015), p. 48.
A reconstruction of the past based on information only available later on, which falsely suggests that what eventually happened should have been obvious and predictable ahead of time. After an event has occurred it is all too easy to imagine that all the information necessary to predict it was available beforehand, when in fact it may not have been.
This bias is widely recognized, as in the adage “Hindsight is 20-20.” Still, it remains quite common, especially in pseudosciences such as bourgeois economics and sociology. For this reason, actual predictions ahead of any event are far more impressive than retrodictions which are so often based on hindsight.
1. The ideology of Hindu religious nationalism which seeks the total domination and control of society in India, and often even the murderous suppression of all other ideologies. Hindutva is the ideology of the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his Bharatiya Janata Party (“Indian People’s Party”, or BJP).
2. A reactionary Hindu nationalist or group. 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, 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 various political reformist trends and especially people adhering to other religions, particularly Muslims, but also Christians and others.
For reasons of its own, U.S. imperialism has recently been inclined to support this BJP govenment and its reactionary Hindutva actions, as part of building up an international alliance against its rising enemy, capitalist-imperialist China.
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... ]
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 (encapsulated in Mao’s phrase “From the masses, to the masses”).
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: BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE, 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.
[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
1. The branch of knowledge which studies the past, especially human society, and which uses as its primary source material, written documents (books, newspapers, magazines, letters, diaries, etc.) which were produced in the era being studied. Often oral histories, memoirs, and the like are also referenced, but most historians recognize that even quite honest people reporting about past events in which they took part, or heard about at the time, can sometimes seriously misremember what really happened. [See: MEMORY] Therefore the documents actually produced in a past era are the most reliable guides as to what was said, thought and done in that period.
Moreover, traditionally, “history” has often meant “that which is in the history books”.
2. [More generally:] What actually occurred in the past with regard to any sort of development, as best as can now be determined through any means. For example, the “history of agriculture” involves the study of not only written documents from past centuries but of necessity also extensive archeological work. The “history of life on earth” involves extensive and prolonged investigations into numerous branches of biology as well as into geophysics and other sciences.
In the first sense above there is such a thing as “pre-history”, since there was a time before written documents were produced. Prehistoric just means, therefore, events from a time before human beings were producing written records and summarizing events in formal historical volumes. In the broader sense of ‘history’, the term “pre-history” usually seems unnecessary. The “pre-history of life on earth” in that case is just a rather peculiar way of talking about the history of the planet before life arose.
In section I of the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels begin by saying that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” This, as Engels mentions in his notes to the 1888 English edition of the Manifesto of course merely refers to all written history up to that time, and in 1847 when the Manifesto was created, almost nothing was known about human society in prehistoric times. Marx and Engels recognized, or soon came to recognize, that there was a time before social classes came into existence, and therefore—in the broader sense of the word ‘history’ (sense #2)—they understood very well that not all human history since human beings first evolved was the history of class struggle.
Although we call history a “branch of knowledge” it must always be remembered that this is more the official goal of historical research rather than always the actual fact of the matter. All studies of human society are at present deeply influenced by class ideologies, and therefore histories produced by ideologists of exploiting classes (such as the bourgeoisie), in particular, will inevitably distort the past to one degree or another because of their current class interests and necessities in fooling the masses and attempting to keep them ignorant.
“It is normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can and for victims to take it seriously.” —Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World? (2016), p. 48. [The reason why this is largely true so far is that the world revolutionary proletariat has as yet only had partial and short-term victories, and the preponderance of historical victories to date have been those by one gang of exploiters or another. And, despite what Chomsky probably thinks, it is we Marxists who take the real lessons of history the most seriously. —S.H.]
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 — Imperialist Version Of
“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” —Attributed to
Winston Churchill, the notorious British imperialist chieftain.
[This is actually a more eloquent paraphrase of what Churchill did in fact say in a speech in the House of Commons on Jan. 23, 1948: “For my part I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself.” See the entry for Churchill, Winston for a few of the real facts about his role in history. —Ed.]
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
HITLER, Adolf (1889-1945)
Austrian-born German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party, the Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and the dictator Führer (“Leader”) of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. The version of horrendous fascism which he and his party, with the solid support of the German bourgeoisie, implemented in Germany was undoubtedly the most extreme and murderous in history. In September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland which began World War II in Europe, and which was at first an inter-imperialist war between the “Axis Countries” (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the “Allied Countries” (the other imperialist powers including Britain, France and then the United States). When Germany attacked the one existing socialist country, the Soviet Union, in June 1941, World War II took on a dual character as both an inter-imperialist war and as a war of German imperialism against Soviet socialism. World War II was by far the deadliest conflict in human history (so far!), with estimated fatalities of between 50 million and 85 million, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. This also includes outright racist genocide, such as what is called “The Holocaust” in Europe (actually one of several genocidal holocausts during the War) wherein Hitler and the Nazis murdered about 6 million Jews along with many Romani (“Gypsies”) and others. Nazi-led German imperialism in World War II was primarily defeated by the Soviet Red Army. Hitler himself committed suicide on April 30, 1945, as the Red Army approached his bunker in Berlin. This marked the inglorious end to Hitler’s self-proclaimed “Thousand Year Reich”.
Today Hitler is almost universally perceived as an evil man, and of course he certainly was. However, the bourgeoisies of the world find it very convenient to blame the entire responsibility for Nazi fascism, World War II and the genocidal murder of tens of millions of Slavs, Jews and others, on Hitler alone (or maybe on Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and Tojo in Japan). It is necessary for them to let the capitalist-imperialist system itself off the hook, along with the vicious racist dogmas which that system requires in its support. Individual monsters like Hitler, and individual racist and other reactionary doctrines, are “created as needed” by the more supremely evil social system of capitalist-imperialism.
See also: POLAND—German Imperialist Invasion Of [Hitler’s remarks], “NERO DECREE”
“In the economic sphere communism is analogous to democracy in the political sphere.” —Adolf Hitler, Speech to the Industry Club in Düsseldorf, Jan. 27, 1932; included in The Nazi Germany Sourcebook, ed. by Roderick Stackelberg and Sally Anne Winkle (2002), p. 106. [Hitler made this remark to his capitalist friends in explaining why democracy—like communism—had to be totally opposed. But while we Marxists strongly support both democracy and communism it is interesting that this is one of the very rare comments by Hitler that we can completely agree with: communism is indeed economic democracy. —S.H.]
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