Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- IA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ia-Il.
- IM.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Im.
- INA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ina-Ine.
- INF.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Inf-Ins.
- INT.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Int.
- INU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Inu-Inz.
- IO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Io-Iz.
Although this older “I.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.
The International Communist Movement. This is understood by revolutionaries to include only revolutionary communists, and to exclude revisionists and revisionist parties even if they call themselves “communists”.
ICMLPO (International Newsletter) or ICMLPO (Maoist)
See: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS (International Newsletter)
ICMLPO (Unity & Struggle) or ICMLPO (Hoxhaist)
See: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS (Unity & Struggle)
See: FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS
IDEALISM [In Philosophy]
The view that the “spiritual”, or mental, or non-material reality is primary, and that material reality (if it exists at all) is secondary. One of the two great trends in the history of philosophy, the other being its opposite, materialism.
See also sub-topics below and: MATERIALISM VS. IDEALISM, SUBJECTIVE IDEALISM, and Philosophical doggerel about idealism.
“Disagreement with ‘common sense’ is the foul quirk of an idealist.” —Lenin, criticizing Hegel for his slander against the materialism of Epicurus, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:283. [Of course for us materialists the existence of the physical world is the foundation of common sense, and those who deny that the material world exists must of necessity be disagreeing with basic common sense. —S.H.]
IDEALISM — Disagreements Within
“When one idealist criticizes the foundations of idealism of another idealist, materialism is always the gainer thereby. Cf. Aristotle versus Plato, etc., Hegel versus Kant, etc.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:283.
IDEALISM — Origin Of
If you go far enough back into pre-history, there will be a time when human beings—or our recent hominid ancestors—were not at all capable of abstract symbolic thought. And, even today, the subtleties of abstraction are often a difficult thing for many people to fully comprehend. If we can conceive of the concept of “God”, must a God therefore actually exist? Some people still think so! And in churches, movies and literature there is still a constant stream of indoctrination which succeeds in getting millions of people to believe that “incantations” or “prayers” can magically change the world.
Young children, in particular, are often very confused by the difference between an object in the world and a picture of it, or a model of it, or the name of that object in contrast to the object itself. As the American psychologist Judy S. DeLoache and her colleagues have found in their experiments, “young children often conflate the item and its symbol”. Moreover the full appreciation of the difference between an abstract symbol for a thing, and the thing itself, is something that develops by stages over time. By the age of around 18 months babies generally begin to understand the difference between an object and a picture of that object, but it still “takes several years for the nature of pictures to be completely understood”. The relation of models of the world to the world itself is a still more difficult thing for children to grasp. They show that young “children cannot maintain the distinction between a symbol and its referent”. DeLoache concludes that “As these various studies show, infants and young children are confused by many aspects of symbols that seem intuitively obvious to adults.” [Cf. Judy S. DeLoache, “Mindful of Symbols”, Scientific American, Aug. 2005.]
But adults, too, often have difficulties in fully comprehending various types of more sophisticated abstractions. This is true even among highly-educated people in bourgeois society. To this very day, there is tremendous confusion and disagreement within bourgeois philosophy over the nature of universals (such as the concept of “chairs”) as opposed to individual physical things (such as some particular chair). These sorts of confusions about the nature of abstraction are the intellectual source of philosophical idealism. The more practical source, of course, is the desire of the ruling classes to maintain their rule by promoting religion, in either primitive traditional forms or idealized metaphysical forms.
“Primitive idealism: the universal (concept, idea) is a particular being. This appears wild, monstrously (more accurately, childishly) stupid. But is not modern idealism, Kant, Hegel, the idea of God, of the same nature (absolutely of the same nature)? Tables, chairs and the ideas of table and chair; the world and the idea of the world (God); thing and ‘noumen,’ the unknowable ‘Thing-in-itself’; the connection of the earth and the sun, nature in general—and law, logos, God. The dichotomy of human knowledge and the possibility of idealism (=religion) are given already in the first, elementary abstraction:
|‘house’ in general and particular houses|
“The approach of the (human) mind to a particular thing, the taking of a copy (= a concept) of it is not a simple, immediate act, a dead mirroring, but one which is complex, split into two, zig-zag-like, which includes in it the possibility of the flight of fantasy from life; more than that: the possibility of the transformation (moreover, an unnoticeable transformation, of which man is unaware) of the abstract concept, idea, into a fantasy (in the final analysis = God).” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Aristotle’s Book Metaphysics” (1915), LCW 38:372.
IDENTITY THEORY (In the Philosophy of Mind)
The view that mental states and processes are identical to the corresponding neural states and processes in the brain that give rise to them. This is a common and prominent type of naive materialism. Of course there are indeed physical structures and processes in the brain which give rise to mental phenomena such as thoughts, memories, feelings, etc. But while we are well aware of these thoughts, memories, and feelings themselves we ordinarily have no direct knowledge of the precise neural networks, structures and processes which give rise to them. If our thoughts, memories and feelings were actually identical to some physical neural structures and processes, then to be aware of one would be the same as being aware of the other! In reality our awareness of mental phenomena is only a high order internal indication or characterization of what are actually very complex brain states and processes.
An analogy: For the image of an automobile to appear on a TV screen, an enormously complex series of material processes must occur in the video camera, the transmission equipment, and the TV receiver set. It would be just as foolish to identify that image with all the material structures and processes that allow it to be shown as it is to identify my memory of that image with the complex brain processes which allow me to have that memory. Our description of the specific TV image as “an automobile” is only a high-level characterization of one aspect of the functioning of the TV equipment at that moment, just as my memory of that image is only a high level characterization of one aspect of the functioning of my brain at that moment.
See also: ELIMINATIVE MATERIALISM
IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE — Within the Revolutionary Movement
“I cannot help recalling ... a conversation I happened to have at
the [2nd R.S.D.L.P.] Congress with one of the ‘Center’ delegates. ‘How oppressive
the atmosphere is at our Congress!’ he complained. ‘This bitter fighting, this
agitation one against the other, this biting controversy, this uncomradely
attitude!...’ ‘What a splendid thing our Congress is!’ I replied. ‘A free and open
struggle. Opinions have been stated. The shades have been revealed. The groups
have taken shape. Hands have been raised. A decision has been taken. A stage has
been passed. Forward! That’s the stuff for me! That’s life! That’s not like the
endless, tedious word-chopping of your intellectuals, which stops not because the
question has been settled, but because they are too tired to talk any more...’
“The comrade of the ‘Center’ stared at me in perplexity and shrugged his shoulders. We were talking different languages.” —Lenin, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” (May 1904), LCW 7:347.
One who defends or promotes a specific ideology. Those who promote and defend the ideologies characteristic of the bourgeoisie are bourgeois ideologists; those who promote and defend the ideology characteristic of the revolutionary proletariat are proletarian or revolutionary ideologists.
The totality of political, legal, philosophical, religious, ethical and aesthetic views of an age, a class, a group, or an individual, considered as a whole. As opposed to vague and isolated ideas and feelings on these topics, ideology is usually considered to be more or less coherent, developed and systematized.
See also: WORLDVIEW
“It is to the advantage of despots to keep people ignorant; it is to our advantage to make them intelligent. We must lead all of them gradually away from ignorance.” —Mao, a directive regarding the Cultural Revolution, Feb. 11, 1966, SW9:405.
Inspector General of Police, a high-ranking police official in India.
ILLIQUID ASSET [Capitalist Fianance]
An investment or other asset that cannot be easily or quickly sold (and thus rapidly turned into money).
1. The spiritual leader of a mosque; a prayer leader at a mosque.
2. A Shiite Muslim leader held by followers to be divinely appointed, sinless, and infallible, and to be a direct successor to Mohammed through the line of his son-in-law Ali.
3. Any of various rulers who claim descent from Mohammed and exercize spiritual and temporal leadership over a Muslim region or community.
See: INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
IMMISERATION OF THE PROLETARIAT
The increasing impoverishment of the working class and masses under capitalism. This is both a historical observation and a prediction for the future by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto and also by Marx in Capital. Bourgeois ideologists have claimed that this has not actually happened, and that the working class has improved its lot substantially over the decades under capitalism. However there are several important respects in which Marx’s statement about the immiseration of the working class is clearly correct.
First, the statement was overall quite correct for the history of capitalism up to the time at which Marx was writing. The advent of capitalism and its early development certainly did lead to severe and often increasing impoverishment of the masses in Europe especially (which was the focus of Marx’s attention).
Second, while the working class has overall become better off in the leading imperialist countries during the capitalist imperialist era, this has come about mostly because of the capitalist desire to cool down the class struggle at home while they drastically intensify the exploitation of the people in the rest of the world. Thus on an overall international level the working people of the world have indeed been further impoverished under capitalism. More than half the population of the world at the present time lives in what can only be called serious poverty. (See: WORLD POVERTY.)
Third, even within the advanced capitalist and imperialist countries, there has been a relative impoverishment of the working class and masses. That is, there has been a massive polarization of wealth in the hands of bourgeoisie, while the economic welfare of the proletariat has improved at a much slower pace. In other words, almost all of the new wealth produced by the working class still goes to the capitalist class. Marx actually focused mostly on this relative immiseration of the working class, rather than on their absolute immiseration. This is something that the army of bourgeois critics of Marx almost totally ignore.
Fourth, while there have been periods of diminishing poverty in many countries, there have also been periods of increasing poverty in all countries. Moreover, the present period is one of those in which the immiseration of the workers and masses in most places in the world is definitely increasing as the world capitalist system sinks into its most severe economic crisis ever.
IMPERIALISM or CAPITALIST IMPERIALISM
The term ‘imperialism’ in traditional usage means the political and economic control or domination of one country by another. In this general sense, Rome was an imperial power, as was Persia and other ancient empires. However, within revolutionary Marxism the term ‘imperialism’ is generally used as a technical term to mean capitalist imperialism, or the economic and political form that capitalism has taken during the period since the late 19th century. Lenin defined imperialism as the highest and final stage of capitalism, and used the term synonymously with monopoly capitalism.
Among the central characteristics of capitalist imperialism are:
1) The rise of and near universal domination of the capitalist economy by joint-stock corporations, as opposed to individually-owned companies or partnerships.
2) A qualitative increase in the levels of monopoly or oligopoly within capitalist economies, especially within each major nation.
3) A qualitative increase in one or another form of the globalization of capital. In the pre-World War I period this often took place in the form of cartelization (international monopolies or agreements among the monopolies from separate nations). In recent decades this has more frequently taken place in the form of the rise of giant multinational corporations (MNCs), which though nearly always politically based in a single country, nevertheless operate and engage in plunder around the globe like international pirates.
4) A qualitative increase in the importance of the export of capital (as compared with merely the export of commodities, though that is of intensified importance as well).
5) A qualitative increase in the role of the capitalist state in the management of the economy, and often the de facto merger of the state with corporations (such as via bourgeois nationalization of individual companies or industries for certain periods).
6) A qualitative expansion in the importance of the financial aspects of capitalism, the financialization of an ever-growing part of the economy, and the rise in importance of a financial oligarchy at the apex of the bourgeois ruling class structure.
7) A qualitative increase in the importance of the domination and exploitation of other countries by a few militaristic imperialist powers. This first took the form of outright colonialism, with virtually total economic and political control of specific “Third World” countries by individual imperialist powers. But this broke down during the second half of the 20th century, and was replaced with neocolonialism, wherein the dominated countries are nominally independent but still exploited and under the general control of foreign imperialism via the medium of local agents of the imperialists (the comprador capitalist class).
8) Politically, capitalist-imperialism is overall a period of world strife, constant imperialist wars whereby the big powers seek to establish, maintain, or re-establish control over other countries, and even some very disastrous and devastating world wars among the imperialist countries and against socialist countries. And, overall, and despite some periods of quiescence, it is a period of the revolutionary upsurge of the people of the world against the capitalist-imperialist system.
See also below, and: NATURAL RESOURCE CURSE, NEOCOLONIALISM, U.S. IMPERIALISM, WORLD IMPERIALIST SYSTEM
IMPERIALISM — Lenin’s Definition Of
[Intro to be added...]
“And so, without forgetting the conditional and relative value of all definitions in general, which can never embrace all the concatenations of a phenomenon in its complete development, we must give a definition of imperialism that will include the following five of its basic features: 1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; 2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this ‘finance capital,’ of a financial oligarchy; 3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; 4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist combines which share the world among themselves, and 5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism in the stage of development in which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital has established itself; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline” (1916), (Peking: FLP, 1975), pp. 105-6; LCW 22:266-7.
IMPERIALISM — World System of
See: WORLD IMPERIALIST SYSTEM
“IMPERIALIST ECONOMISTS” [Political Trend among the Bolsheviks]
“Imperialist economists—Lenin’s designation for the
opportunists Bukharin, Pyatakov and Bosh in the Russian
Social-Democratic Labor Party (Bolsheviks) during the First World War. The
‘imperialist economists’ demanded that the Party delete the programmatic statement
on the right of nations to self-determination. They also came out against the entire
minimum programme of the R.S.D.L.P., which envisaged a struggle for democratic
reforms that would facilitate the preparation and transition to the socialist
revolution. Lenin laid bare the opportunistic essence of the position of Bukharin
and those sharing his views, its kinship with ‘economism’—the opportunistic trend in
Russian Social-Democracy at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the
20th. Like the old ‘economists,’ who could not understand the need for the political
struggle of the working class under conditions of capitalism, the ‘imperialist
economists’ did not understand the significance of the struggle for democratic
reforms under conditions of imperialism.
“Certain views of the ‘imperialist economists’ were shared by Left Social-Democrats of Holland, America, Poland, etc. That is why Lenin called ‘imperialist economism’ an ‘international disease’ [LCW 35:254].
“A number of articles by Lenin are devoted to a criticism of ‘imperialist economism’: ‘On the Incipient Trend of “Imperialist Economism”’ [LCW 23:1-9]; ‘Reply to P. Kievsky (Y. Pyatakov)’ [LCW 23:10-15]; ‘A Caracature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism’ [LCW 23:16-64].” —Note 155, LCW 38.
See: RICH AND POOR — Income
A tax on the income of individuals or companies. A progressive income tax is one which taxes those with higher incomes at a higher tax rate. In the Communist Manifesto Marx & Engels called for “a sharply progressive system of taxation” as one of a number of means which might prove to be of use in transforming capitalism into socialism. But as they noted, such a transformation—by whatever means—will only be feasible once the revolutionary proletariat achieves full political power. Before then any reforms along the lines of a progressive income tax will soon be undermined or reversed by the ruling bourgeoisie.
“In the final decades of the nineteenth century, leaders of
corporations took huge payouts [from their companies] to establish huge fortunes.
One reaction was the passage of an income tax law in 1910 aimed exclusively at
only the richest Americans. Those richest Americans quickly developed a
counter-strategy to change the new income tax law.
“They succeeded and thereby spread the burden of the income tax across the entire population, which eventually undermined popular support of the income tax.” —Richard D. Wolff, Capitalism Hits the Fan (2010), pp. 23-24.
INDEPENDENT LABOUR PARTY (Britain)
“Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) was founded in Britain
in 1893 under the leadership of James Keir Hardie, Ramsay Macdonald and others. It
claimed itself politically independent of bourgeois parties but, as Lenin said,
‘it was independent only of socialism but very dependent on liberalism’.
“On the outbreak of the world imperialist war of 1914-18 the I.L.P. issued an anti-war manifesto (August 13, 1914). In February 1915 the I.L.P. delegates to the Conference of Socialists from the ‘Entente’ countries held in London supported the social-chauvinist resolution adopted at the Conference. From then on the I.L.P. leaders used pacifist phrases to cover up what was in fact a social-chauvinist position. In 1919, the I.L.P. leadership yielded to the pressure of the leftward-moving rank and file and withdrew from the Second International. In 1921 the I.L.P. joined the so-called Two-and-a-Half International, but when the latter fell to pieces, returned to the Second International. In 1921 the Left wing of the I.L.P. broke away from the Party and joined the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain.” —Note 47, Lenin: SW I (1967).
INDEPENDENT SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GERMANY
[Usually abrieviated by its German initials, USPD.]
“The Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany—a
Centrist party formed in April 1917. The core of the
party was made up of Kautsky’s Labor Commonwealth. The Independents advocated unity
with the declared social-chauvinists, justified and defended them and demanded the
rejection of the class struggle.
“In October 1920 a split took place at the Halle Congress of the party. A large section of it united with the Communist Party in December 1920. Right-wing elements formed a separate party and adopted the old name of Independent Social-Democratic Party; it existed until 1922.” —Note 319, Lenin: SW I (1967).
The view that some (or all) phenomena do not have causes. The opposite of determinism.
See also: FREE WILL
INDIA — Languages Of
It is useful for those of us interested in India and the developing revolution there to have some idea of the complexity of the language situation in that country. The 1961 census recognized 1,652 different languages spoken in India. 122 languages are spoken by more than 10,000 people, and 29 languages are spoken by more than 1 million people. Here are some of the most important languages, together with the number of current speakers, locations, etc.:
|Hindi||Indo-Aryan||422||The “Hindi belt” in
|83||W. Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand,
|74||Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil
Nadu, Maharashtra, Orissa
|72||Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pra-
desh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Goa
|61||Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Pondicherry,
Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra
|52||Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh
Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh
|Closely related to Hindi; also |
widely spoken in Pakistan
Tamil Nadu, Goa
|Also known as Kanarese|
Haryana and Punjab
|Includes numerous |
|33||Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahé,
|Indo-Aryan||29||Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi,
|12||Bihar||Formerly sometimes viewed |
as dialect of Hindi or Bengali
|Santali||Munda||6.5||Chota Nagpur Plateau (Bihar,
Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa)
|Language of the |
|5.5||Jammu and Kashmir|| |
There are two major language families in India, the Indo-Aryan family (a sub-family
of Indo-European), the languages of which are spoken by about 70% of the people, and the
Dravidian family in the southeast part of India, whose languages are spoken by about
22% of the people. The early forms of Indo-Aryan from around 1000 BCE are jointly referred to
as Sanskrit. All the modern Indo-Aryan languages have developed from Sanskrit in the same way
that the Romance languages in Europe have developed from Latin. (Amazingly, there are still
about 50,000 native speakers of Sanskrit in India!) Tamil is the oldest Dravidian language and
has written records dating back as far as the 3rd century BCE. The boundaries of
Indian states are mostly along socio-linguistic lines.
Because of the heritage of British colonialism in India, English is also an important language there, especially among the upper classes and the better educated. There are many English language publications. However, nobody knows for sure just how many people in India speak English and it is probably a very small fraction of the total population. Some estimates put the figure as low as 3%, others as high as 10%.
See also: CONCEIT
“Confucius has been dead for ages and today we have a Communist Party in China, which is surely wiser than Confucius; this goes to show that we can do better without Confucius. As for good people, they are not indispensable either. Would the earth stop turning without them? The earth will go on turning all the same. Things will proceed as usual or perhaps even better.” —Mao, “Speeches at the National Conference of the Communist Party of China: Concluding Speech” (March 31, 1955), SW 5:166.
1. The theory that the rights or interests of the individual are supreme, and are higher than any possible collective rights or interests of groups of people.
2. The bourgeois ethical theory that morality is (or should be) based on individual interests, as in the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
INDONESIA — Military Coup in 1965 — Role of Foreign Imperialism
The U.S. and British imperialists played major roles in encouraging, organizing, supporting, and helping to give a propaganda cover to the murderous military coup in Indonesia in 1965. [More to be added... ]
“In 1990, Kathy Kadane, an American agency journalist, made her name
when she revealed that in 1965 CIA officers had passed death sentences on five thousand
members of the the Indonesian Communist Party, the PKI, by handing their names to the
insurgent generals.... Britain was no less involved than the US in the coup against
Achmad Sukarno, the nationalist Indonesian leader who was willing to work with the PKI....
“On 5 October 1965, as the massacres began, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, Britain’s Ambassador in Jakarta, told the Foreign Office: ‘I have never concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change.’ On the following day, the Foreign Office in London replied: ‘The crucial question still remains whether the generals will pluck up enough courage to take decisive action against the PKI.’ Gilchrist shared his superiors’ worry that the generals might be pussy liberals. Although the Army was ‘full of good anti-Communist ideas’, he said, it was ‘reluctant to take, or incapable of taking, effective action in the political field’. The Foreign Office resolved on a strategy. ‘It seems pretty clear that the generals are going to need all the help they can get and accept without being tagged as hopelessly pro-Western, if they are going to be able to gain ascendancy over the Communists. In the short run, and while the present confusion continues, we can hardly go wrong by tacitly backing the generals.’ It is difficult to say how far British ‘help’ extended—the relevant files will be kept secret until well into the next century.” —Nick Cohen, “Benetton Ethics”, London Review of Books, July 2, 1998, p. 7.
The process of reasoning from specific cases to general conclusions. Of course this is sometimes valid, and sometimes invalid. Bourgeois philosophers have struggled (unsuccessfully) to force the valid cases into being considered some kind of deductive reasoning.
See also: NAÏVE INDUCTIVISM, and Philosophical doggerel about the bourgeois philosopher Nelson Goodman for a discussion of what he called the “new riddle of induction”.
The most common term used by Marx for the economic ups and downs in capitalist society over a period typically of 5 to 10 years. [More to be added... ]
See also: ECONOMIC CYCLES
As commonly used in modern capitalism, the term industrial production is the output in these three areas of the economy: manufacturing, mining, and utilities. Mining includes oil and gas drilling and production, and utilities include electricity production and distribution along with natural gas distribution. Manufacturing is the most important component of industrial production, and in the U.S. it makes up around 75% of the total (as of 2010). The Federal Reserve publishes a monthly index of industrial production, which is an important indicator of the health of the entire economy.
INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD (IWW)
A militant working class organization founded in the United States in 1905 with the goal of organizing all workers into one large union. It fought not only for better wages and working conditions, but—unlike most unions in bourgeois society—also favored the overthrow of capitalism. From 1905 to 1908 it was under socialist influence, but afterward became syndicalist in its outlook. Its base of support was among unskilled and immigrant workers who were disgusted with the craft unions and the political conservatism of the American Federation of Labor. The IWW believed that the organization of workers according to their industries could form the basis for a future socialist society, and even conceived of the IWW and industrial unionism as “forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old”.
Despite its ideological weaknesses, the IWW made a major contribution to promoting militancy and class consciousness in the U.S. during its early years. However, after World War I the organization declined rapidly, due to severe government repression and also internal dissention. The IWW still exists today in a miniscule way, but long ago ceased to be a significant social force.
Under the capitalist system the overall trend is for the polarization of both income and wealth to intensify over time—that is to say, for the rich to get ever richer and for the poor to get relatively poorer. The basic reason for this is pretty obvious; the capitalist ruling class runs its companies and all of society in its own interests.
At the present time this inequality of wealth has reached new and record extremes. In early 2015 the Oxfam organization reported that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the poorest 80% of the population owned just 5.5% of the wealth. And it added that if current trends continue, the richest 1% will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
See also: BILLIONAIRES, GINI COEFFICIENT, MILLIONAIRES, RICH AND POOR, SOCIAL JUSTICE INDEX
The doctrine that something is inevitable, such as revolution in a certain country in a certain period, or eventual world communism (with no explicit time period specified). The term “inevitableism” itself has pejorative connotations and is generally used by those attacking the idea that the possible event or development at issue is inevitable.
Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and most other major creators and leaders of revolutionary Marxism have forcefully stated that many future things are in fact inevitable (though they rarely indicate precise timeframes), including social revolution, the eventual replacement of capitalism with socialism on a worldwide scale, the eventual transformation of socialism into communism where classes no longer exist, and in the meanwhile (while capitalism still exists), widespread poverty, major economic crises and interimperialist contention and wars.
“The socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system; this is an objective law independent of human will. No matter how the reactionaries try to block the advance of the wheel of history, sooner or later revolution will occur, and it is bound to be victorious.” —Mao, “Speech at Moscow Airport” (November 2, 1957), Leung & Kau, eds., The Writings of Mao Zedong: 1949-1976, vol. II, p. 762.
However, more recently there have been ideological currents within even Marxism that have
denied that many or all of these things are inevitable! It is true of course that very few things
are “absolutely inevitable” with no conceivable possibility that they won’t occur! It is
conceivable, after all, that humanity might be wiped out by a giant asteroid striking the earth
next week, and in that case humanity will not get the chance to overthrow capitalism, introduce
world socialism, and transform that socialism into world communism.
But it seems to me that we should cut Marx, Engels, et al., a little slack here, and understand their predictions that revolution, socialism and communism are inevitable in a more reasonable way. It is in fact true that given a very few assumed conditions, and specifically given that humanity continues to exist, capitalism will eventually be overthrown and the world will institute first socialism and then communism. Indeed, the overthrow of capitalism is itself one of the major conditions required if humanity is to continue to exist! Either humanity gets rid of capitalism, or capitalism will get rid of humanity (through nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, scientific accident through recklessness due to the profit motive, or some combination of such genuine dangers).
There is a tendency in modern bourgeois society toward philosophical (or epistemological) agnosticism, and this has also had some negative effects within Marxism itself. And part of this is to start thinking that nothing significant can really be known about the future, and that revolution and communism are not inevitable (even on reasonable assumptions). We must strongly resist this inroad of bourgeois agnosticism and decadent pessimism within our revolutionary movement!
See also: REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISM, TELEOLOGY
The general rise in prices of goods and services. Inflation is most often caused by the expansion of the money supply in an economy faster than the rate of expansion of the economy itself (i.e., faster than the rate of growth of production). Thus if the government runs large budget deficits and pays for them not by borrowing from other countries or from the rich within its own country, but simply by printing up more money, inflation will inevitably develop.
Most modern capitalist countries actually purposely plan for a low rate of inflation (rather than stable prices) because they believe this will spur economic growth. Inflation does have the effect of gradually wiping out debts, so it can in fact have this result to a degree and to the extent that further growth is limited by already excessive debt.
See also: DEFLATION, HYPERINFLATION, REFLATION, STAGFLATION
INFLATION TARGETING [Bourgeois Economic Policy]
A strategy by a central bank or other authorities in charge of a capitalist economy in which some definite target rate for inflation is set, and monetary and other measures are frequently adjusted in an attempt to stay within a narrow band around that level of inflation. The alternative ad hoc approach to monetary policy has been more common in the past. “Inflation targeting” assumes that short-term forecasts of inflation rates will be accurate, which is often far from true. In any case, inflation targeting will at most only work as a fine tuning measure, and cannot possibly eliminate the industrial cycle in capitalist economies nor resolve major crises.
This is a common phenomenon in the modern world, especially since the widespread availability of TV, computers and the Internet. The central difficulty with “information overload” is that the great preponderance of the information that many people are being swamped with is just not very important, reliable or useful. Worse yet, excessive attention to relatively unimportant information can distract people from acquiring the most essential information. One way that this happens is that people spend a lot of time “surfing the Internet” for what are actually relatively trivial and transient facts and off-the-cuff opinions, while not putting in any serious effort to acquire the scientific theories and perspectives that would allow them to properly evaluate those facts and opinions. This results in a “dumbing down” of people’s understanding of what is going on in the world and their ability to deal with it. This is a problem for society in general, but it is especially so for young people who are the ones most prone to spend so much time “texting”, visiting social networking sites and otherwise surfing the Web, etc., and so little time reading serious books these days.
This is also becoming a serious problem in the culture of the revolutionary left. Much more attention needs to be given to having formal study groups and to serious study of revolutionary theory, especially the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao.
INNOVATION-ONLY ECONOMIC MODEL
The bizarre theory of many American bourgeois economists that it no longer matters that manufactoring is rapidly declining in the U.S. and shifting overseas, because supposedly most of the world’s innovation and new ideas are still happening in the U.S. In reality, innovation, and ideas for new or improved products, also soon shift to the new manufacturing centers.
“That innovation should always follow manufacturing is hardly surprising.
After all, manufacturers conduct 70 percent of all R&D [research and development] in the
United States. So what do we think will happen to all that R&D when those manufacturers
“The offshoring of innovation has resulted in a sharp decline in overall R&D intensity in the United States—the percentage of gross domestic product devoted to R&D—relative to the rest of the world. We once had the most R&D-intensive economy in the world. Now we’re eighth.” —Henry R. Nothhaft, a U.S. “entrepreneur” capitalist, lamenting the relative decline in R&D and innovation in the U.S., “U.S. Outsourcing Prosperity”, San Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 2011, p. F7.
The buying or selling of stocks or other financial securities by those with “inside knowledge” of the decisions being made by capitalist corporations which will affect the prices of those shares of stock or securities. In capitalist financial theory every buyer or seller is supposed to be allowed equal access to this information (through public publication) before anyone is legally allowed to make use of it to buy or sell, though fully honoring this law is probably actually something of a rarity! Occasionally some blatant case of insider trading is prosecuted. Insider trading is yet another method whereby some financial capitalists cheat the others.
Having liabilities greater than the current reasonable market value of all assets. In other words, a company or bank is insovent if it does not have enough money either on hand, or else which it can raise in short order by selling assets, to cover its liabilities to both shareholders and those to whom it owes money (including depositors in the case of banks).
See also: ZOMBIES
A specific moment (or “point”) in time. This is an important mathematical abstraction which has also become part of the conceptual machinery of virtually every human being.
“In contrasting average speed with instantaneous speed we have implicitly utilized a distinction between interval and instant, which is vital for what follows. An average speed is one that concerns what happens over an interval of time—3 hours, 5 seconds, one half second, and so forth. The interval may be small or large, but it does represent the passage of a definite amount of time. We use the word instant, however, to state the fact that something happens so fast that no time elapses. The event is momentary. When we say, for example, that it is 3 o'clock, we refer to an instant, a precise moment. If the lapse of time is pictured by length along a line, then an interval is represented by a line segment, whereas an instant corresponds to a point. The notion of an instant, although it is also used in everyday life, is strictly a mathematical idealization.” —Morris Kline, Calculus: An Intuitive and Physical Approach, 2nd ed. (Dover, 1998 (1977)), p. 17.
INSTRUMENTS OF PRODUCTION
The tools, machinery and technology used in economic production. This category is part of the means of production (which also includes raw materials, land, buildings, etc.).
See: INTRINSIC GOOD
1. [In the philosophy of mind:] The view that mind and mental phenomena (such as thoughts, ideas, memories, hopes, etc.) are merely “convenient fictions” which do not really objectively exist. Thus instrumentalism in this sense is a type of naïve materialism similar to eliminative materialism. But whereas that theory claims mentalistic terms can and should be dispensed with entirely, instrumentalism admits that mentalistic terminology is indispensable in our everyday vocabulary for describing, explaining and predicting human behavior—even though (supposedly!) minds, ideas, memories, and other mental things “don’t really exist”. (Yes; it’s an utterly ridiculous theory. It fails to recognize that mentalistic terms are not only necessary but are entirely valid high-level summaries of states of the functioning physical brain in its tremendous neuronal complexity.)
2. [In ethics:] A term used to denigrate interest-based, utility-based and similar naturalistic theories of ethics by their (usually Kantian) idealist opponents.
3. [In the philosophy of John Dewey:] The view that concepts and theories are merely “instruments” or tools for dealing with a situation, which cannot genuinely reflect the underlying reality, and cannot really be considered true or false. Hence, a subjective idealist doctrine fully in tune with the pragmatist spirit.
In recent years the RCPUSA and those who have been around it have used the term in something like this third sense, though often expressed more vaguely or crudely, as in Bob Avakian’s comment: “By ‘instrumentalism’ here I mean torturing reality in the attempt to make a distorted version of reality an instrument of certain aims.” [“Bringing Forward Another Way”, Fall 2006, online at: http://revcom.us/avakian/anotherway/index.htm] Mike Ely, among others, has pointed out that Avakian himself “both condemns and practices instrumentalism”, and uses the method of “manipulating people by fudging the truth” such as by putting forward apocalyptic predictions of imminent revolution in the U.S., imminent Christian fascism, and the like, which surely Avakian must have known were not actually true or reasonable.
Insurance is simply a socially-approved-of form of gambling, wherein the person or company taking out the insurance bets that something bad will happen, and the insurance company bets that it won’t. When you buy fire insurance on your house, for example, you are betting that the house will catch fire someday, and the insurance company is betting that it won’t. For you, that is indeed gambling, because it is impossible to be sure whether or not your house will catch fire. But it is a gamble that makes sense because if your house does catch fire, at least you will receive a large payment from the insurance company that will hopefully allow you to repair the damage or else build a new house. If your house never catches fire, then you will still be out the premiums you paid to the insurance company; but, either way, you will not have suffered a catastropic loss. That is why insurance is often a good idea for the person buying it; it eliminates (or at least reduces) their risk of any catastrophic loss.
While buying insurance is a form of gambling for the person buying the insurance, interestingly it is not really that much of a gamble for the insurance company! This is because while the odds of your particular house catching fire someday are unknown, and probably unknowable, the total number of houses of your type catching fire in your region of the country over the course of an average year is a quite stable and easily ascertainable statistical figure. If the insurance company insures a large enough number of houses it will have a very good idea of the total insurance payments it will have to pay out each year. For them it is not much of a gamble at all; it is actuarial science.
“An insurance company, sanely directed, and making scores of thousands of bets, is not gambling at all; it knows with sufficient accuracy at what age its clients will die, how many of their houses will be burnt every year, how often their houses will by broken into by burglars..., how much they will suffer from illness or unemployment, and what births and deaths will cost them: in short, what will happen to every thousand or ten thousand or a million people even when the company cannot tell what will happen to any individual among them.” —George Bernard Shaw, “The Vice of Gambling and the Virtue of Insurance”, in James R. Newman, The World of Mathematics, vol. 3, 1956, p. 1527.
Insurance, therefore, is a way of socializing risk, of equalizing it across the population
of insured people. While this can be done in a half-assed fashion via private insurance
companies, this is not at all the best way to do it. First, the insurance companies demand to
make a profit, which is always absurdly large (and much of which is under the table, in the
form of huge salaries and stock benefits for the top managers, for example). Second, they
must compete with other insurance companies, which leads to huge marketing operations, vast
expenditures for advertising, and so forth. All of this is tremendously wasteful and greatly
raises insurance premiums beyond what they would otherwise be. On top of this, private
insurance companies regularly try to use all sorts of means to cheat claimants out of the
payments due them. (I.e., they are often guilty of various forms of fraud.)
Clearly, the best way of socializing risk, and for all the people, is through a socialist government insurance program. It can create an immense saving of labor in the administration of this insurance, by having only one insurance agency, rather than dozens of competing companies. It can insure at the actual cost of insuring, and not the bloated prices required by private profits and massive advertising. The administration of insurance benefits can be streamlined, and there will no longer be any reason to try to cheat people out of benefits that are due them. Here, as in every other area, socialism/communism is necessary to run an insurance system that really serves the interests of the people.
INSURANCE DEATH SPIRAL
A situation where an insurance company (or segment of the insurance industry) begins to lose those of its customers who are least likely to file claims, leaving the company with a higher proportion of policy holders who do file claims, which in turn forces them to raise their rates, which then leads to the loss of more customers in a vicious feedback loop.
An insurance company or segment of the industry (such as fire insurance or health insurance) normally insures a wide cross-section of the public, that is, something close to a representative section of the public. Thus if 4% of all the families in a country have a major health problem in an average year, and the health insurance industry pays out major claims to 4% of their policy holders during the year, their policy holders may be deemed a representative section of the population. The rates the health insurance industry sets are based on their expectations of the rate of payout. But suppose economic hard times come along (as they often do under capitalism), and more and more of those who are in generally good health decide they have to drop their health insurance because they just can no longer afford to pay the premiums. In this case the insurance companies will be paying out claims on a greater percentage of policies and will have to raise their rates. This will force more people to drop their health insurance, which once again leads to higher premiums.
This situation has actually developed in the health insurance industry in the U.S. at the present time (early 2010), with sudden huge premium increases being demanded by the insurance companies. They really do not want to raise their rates just now because that might lead to more support for a national health care plan which these insurance companies strongly oppose. But to keep their profits up, most of them are now raising their rates anyway. (This is another example of how the interests of an individual capitalist company often trump the interests of the whole industry or the interests of the capitalist class as a whole!)
In a genuine socialist society there could be no such thing as an insurance death spiral, since every person would automatically be covered by reasonable health insurance and other forms of insurance. The insurance coverage would automatically be “representative” of the whole population, since it would include the whole population.
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See also: LEVÉE EN MASSE
Generally this is a term of abuse used against Lenin’s basic strategy of revolution (the “October Road”) by those who reject that strategy and instead favor urban guerrilla warfare and the supposed universal applicability of the strategy of protracted people’s war to all countries, regardless of their very different circumstances.
See: TANGIBLE PROPERTY
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INTELLECTUALS — Remolding Of
“The question of the intellectuals is above all one of ideology, and it is not helpful but harmful to resort to crude and heavy-handed measures for solving ideological questions. The remoulding of the intellectuals, and especially the changing of their world outlook, is a process that requires a long period of time. Our comrades must understand that ideological remoulding involves long-term, patient and painstaking work, and they must not attempt to change people’s ideology, which has been shaped over decades of life by giving a few lectures or by holding a few meetings. Persuasion, not coercion, is the only way to convince people. Coercion will never result in convincing people. To try to make them submit by force simply won’t do. This kind of method is permissible in dealing with the enemy, but absolutely impermissible in dealing with comrades or friends. What if we don’t know how to convince others? Then we have to learn. We must learn to conquer erroneous ideas through debate and reasoning.” —Mao, “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work”, March 12, 1957, SW5:432-3; online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-5/mswv5_59.htm
Intellectuals who form an influential social or political elite. In Russia, in the Tsarist and early Soviet eras, this meant those people in the “liberal professions”, such as lawyers, doctors, university professors, etc. Thus in the Russian context the term ‘intelligentsia’ is nearly equivalent to what we mean by “petty bourgeois professionals” in the U.S. The ‘major intelligentsia’ meant the same as the ‘intelligentsia’ in Russia. The ‘minor intelligentsia’ meant salaried employees (as opposed to wage workers) and moderately educated people who did not have professional occupations.
INTENSIFICATION OF LABOR
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[Intro material to be added...]
“Interest is therefore nothing but a part of the profit (which, in its turn, is itself nothing but surplus-value, unpaid labor), which the industrial capitalist pays to the owner of the borrowed capital with which he ‘works’, either exclusively or partially. Interest is a part of profit—of surplus-value—which, established as a special category, is separated from the total profit under its own name, a separation which is by no means based on its origin, but only on the manner in which it is paid out or appropriated. Instead of being appropriated by the industrial capitalist himself—although he is the person who at first holds the whole surplus-value in his hands no matter how it may be distributed between himself and other people under the names of rent, industrial profit and interest—this part of the profit is deducted by the industrial capitalist from his own revenue and paid to the owner of capital.” —Marx, TSV 3:470-1 [Addenda].
INTERESTS (Politics and Ethics)
Of course there are the familiar concepts of money interest and of being interested in (curious about) something. But in philosophy there is a different concept (objective or beneficial interest), namely, something which objectively benefits or is to the advantage of someone or a group. This meaning of ‘interests’ is the most fundamental concept in all of social science. A focus on beneficial interests is the key to understanding both politics and ethics.
For an extensive discussion of the word ‘interests’ in this sense, and its fundamental importance in ethics, see my work in progress, An Introduction to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Class Interest Theory of Ethics, online at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/MLM-Ethics-Ch1-2.pdf, especially Chapter 2. —S.H.
See also below and: CLASS INTERESTS, MATERIAL INTERESTS
INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE
The things which objectively benefit the people, especially considered overall and in the long run. In MLM usage, this phrase assumes we are talking about the people in the Maoist sense, that is, the proletariat and its allies, as opposed to the enemy (the bourgeoisie and its agents and allies). The most central interest of the people in the long run is the revolutionary transformation of capitalism into communism.
“Our point of departure is to serve the people whole-heartedly and never for a moment divorce ourselves from the masses, to proceed in all cases from the interests of the people and not from the interests of individuals or groups.... Communists must be ready at all times to stand up for the truth, because truth is in the interests of the people; Communists must be ready at all times to correct their mistakes, because mistakes are against the interests of the people.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:315.
“In a word, every comrade must be brought to understand that the supreme test of the words and deeds of a Communist is whether they conform with the highest interests and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.” —Mao, ibid, SW 3:316.
INTERESTS OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE
This is a phrase which is generally used to talk about the population as a whole, without reference (even by implication) to specific social classes. As such, there are more often appropriate opportunities for revisionists to use the phrase than for revolutionary Marxists!
See also: “PARTY OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE”
INTERESTS — Short-term versus Long-term
The things which benefit the people, their beneficial interests, may be either short-term or long-term. Of course both are important. It is in the short-term interests of a worker that he or she have a good dinner tonight. It is in the long-term interests of the worker that his or her class makes social revolution, overthrows capitalism, and seizes political power for the proletariat and its allies. Which is more important? Well, we all recognize that long-term interests are in some sense more important, even though if too many short-term interests are disregarded we might all die of starvation! Both short-term and long-term interests must be addressed to some degree, even though addressing long-term interests very often involves purposely ignoring some short-term interests. That is just the way the world is. Satisfying our long-term needs and interests typically involves sacrificing some of our short-term needs and interests.
“Policies of benevolence are of two kinds. One is concerned with
the people’s immediate interests. The other is concerned with their long-term
interests, such as resisting U.S. aggression and aiding Korea and building heavy
industry. The first is a policy of lesser benevolence and the second a policy of
greater benevolence. Both must be taken into consideration and it is wrong not to
do so. Where then is the emphasis to be placed? On the policy of greater benevolence.
At present the emphasis in our policy of benevolence should be on the construction
of heavy industry. Construction takes money. Therefore much as the livelihood of the
people needs to be improved, this cannot be done to any great extent for the time
being. In other words, while we do have to improve the people’s livelihood, we must
not make too much. To make allowance for the policy of lesser benevolence is to go
off the right track.
“Now some friends put lop-sided stress on the policy of lesser benevolence; in effect, they wanted us to give up the war to resist U.S. aggresssion and aid Korea, and now they want us to give up the building of heavy industry. We must criticize this erroneous view.” —Mao, “Our Great Victory in the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea and Our Future Tasks” (Sept. 12, 1953), SW 5:119.
See: SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE, OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCES
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS (International Newsletter)
[Not to be confused with the “ICMLPO (Unity & Struggle)”, see below.] Sometimes informally called the ICMLPO (Maoist). This is a very loose federation of parties and organizations which support Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, or perhaps in some cases a version of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. This conference meets every 2 or 3 years. However, a number of the most important Maoist parties in the world, such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist), do not belong to this grouping and have not participated in these conferences. The ICMLPO (International Newsletter) has a website at: http://www.icmlpo.de
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS (Unity & Struggle)
[Not to be confused with the the “ICMLPO (International Newsletter)”, see above.] This loose federation is also known as the ICMLPO (Hoxhaist). This is an association of parties and groups which condemn modern revisionism, but also oppose Maoism. They follow instead the ideas of Enver Hoxha of Albania, and tend to be extremely doctrinaire. Most of the groups are also extremely small. The official homepage of the ICMLPO (Hoxhaists) is at: http://www.cipoml.org/
“INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOR” [Soviet Imperialist Doctrine]
A doctrine that was used by the social-imperialist Soviet Union to “justify” the restrictions it placed on what other countries in its sphere of control could or had to produce, based in reality mostly on what was of the greatest benefit to the Soviet economy itself.
“‘International division of labor’ is a device by which the Soviet Union squeezes and bleeds the ‘fraternal countries’ in what it calls the ‘socialist community.’ In the words of the renegade clique in the Kremlin, what the ‘community’ members should or should not produce in the ‘international division of labor’ is determined by their ‘most favorable natural and economic conditions.’ Actually the ultimate decision hinges on the needs of the Soviet state monopoly capital. The Soviet Union uses ‘international division of labor’ to force some C.M.E.A. states to provide it with primary agricultural and mining products and reduce some others to virtual processing plants for the Soviet economy. According to the principles guiding ‘international division of labor,’ products which are needed by a member country and conditions for whose manufacture are available cannot be produced if they are not included in the ‘division of labor.’ On the other hand, products listed in the ‘division of labor’ must be produced even if they are not wanted in large quantities by a member country. The Soviet Union, however, is not subject to these restrictions.” —Note in Peking Review, #46, Nov. 11, 1977, pp. 25-26.
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)
An international agency set up at the end of World War II by the victorious capitalist-imperialist powers led by the United States whose purpose is to try to institutionalize the exploitation of rest of the world by the imperialist powers controlling it, and at the same time to stabilize the international financial system and deal with the serious financial problems that continually arise within it. Although the fund officially became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1947, it continues to be dominated and controlled by the U.S. with the support of the other traditional imperialist powers (especially Britain, France, Germany and Japan). In essence it is the international bank which enforces the monetary dictates of these imperialist powers on the other capitalist countries of the world. It is the central bank of the current World Imperialist System.
Over the 70 years of its existence so far, the IMF has focused on such things as resolving balance of payments deficits—especially on the part of “Third World” countries—by forcing these countries to devalue their currencies (thus making their products available more cheaply to the imperialist exploiters). The IMF, therefore, is a major tool of the imperialists in continually intensifying their exploitation of the workers of other countries. The IMF also puts heavy pressure on its member countries to allow the full convertibility of their currencies into U.S. dollars and other currencies—which again facilitates the transfer of profits to the imperialist ruling classes in the dominant countries.
The IMF operates with the “carrot and the stick” approach. It will issue loans to countries suffering major trade deficits which will allow them to continue exporting their products—that’s the “carrot” part. But it then demands the devaluations and/or other changes beneficial to foreign imperialism in exchange—that’s the “stick” part. However, this whole technique is showing ever-increasing difficulties and strain. Although according to bourgeois economic theory the forced devaluations should allow the indebted countries to eventually run trade surpluses and pay off their debts, things are not actually working out this way. (One basic fact that is ignored here is that all capitalist countries need to almost constantly expand their debt levels in order to keep their economies going in the first place.)
On an international scale the IMF is currently the primary “lender of last resort”. Thus the IMF has recently been the leading bank trying to cope with the chronic and totally unsustainable debt growth in the world by itself becoming a major source of “serial lending” (with new larger loans necessary in order to pay off older, smaller loans), in a desperate attempt to keep the world economy functioning. Near the end of 2015 the U.S. ratified an agreement to expand the capital of the IMF to improve its short-term prospects of keeping the world financial system fairly stable. But at the same time it is forcing some rules changes on the IMF that will make serial lending more difficult (at least with countries such as Greece). Mixed signals such as this raise serious questions about how successful the IMF can be in coming years, and it is certainly the case that the ever-greater expansion of world debt must come to a crashing end at some point.
“INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST OWNERSHIP” [Soviet Imperialist Doctrine]
Another doctrine that was used by the social-imperialist Soviet Union to “justify” Soviet domination of the economies of other nominally “socialist” countries in its sphere of control. This was actually an excuse to set up Soviet-controlled multinational (or transnational) corporations which could freely operate in (and exploit) their “fraternal countries”.
Now that China has become a capitalist imperialist country it is of course doing the very same thing, though without bothering with most of the phony “socialist” ideological trappings.
“Since the beginning of the 1970s, the Soviet social-imperialists have been loudly preaching about establishing a ‘common ownership,’ or ‘international socialist ownership’ in the ‘socialist community.’ The Soviet ruling clique asserted that ‘contradictions have arisen between one-nation ownership and the productive forces of an increasing international nature.’ Therefore, to solve these contradictions, so their argument goes, it is necessary to set up a ‘common ownership’ in the ‘community.’ The Soviet-controlled C.M.E.A. has set up a number of ‘international economic joint companies,’ among them the international atomic instrument joint company and the international textile-machinery joint company. The Soviet Union has gathered into its hands the power on all important issues and is monopolizing everthing in these ‘joint companies’ for the purpose of directly controlling the key industrial departments of the member states.” —Note in Peking Review, #46, Nov. 11, 1977, pp. 27.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
An international holiday promoting women’s equality and celebrating the contributions of women to the people’s struggles. It is now celebrated on March 8, each year.
International Women’s Day was first organized by Clara Zetkin and the international revolutionary socialist movement in March of 1911. [More to be added...]
INTERNATIONAL WORKINGMEN’S ASSOCIATION
[Afterwards often called the “First International”.] This was the first major organization of the militant international proletariat. Marx played an important role in it. It was founded in London in 1864, and held congresses in Geneva (1866), Lausanne (1867), Brussels (1868), Basle (1869), and the Hague (1872). At its peak, the official journal of the IWA said that it had 8 million members, though police reports claimed only 5 million.
The disruptions of the anarchists led by Bakunin, especially after 1871, were a major factor leading to the demise of the IWA. It formally disbanded in Philadelphia in 1876.
The Internationale is the anthem and fighting song of the international working class. It is often sung by militant groups of workers and students while raising their right clenched fists. The original French poem was written in June 1871, just after the fall of the Paris Commune, by the French revolutionary Eugène Pottier (1816–1887). The words were set to original music by the worker/composer Pierre De Geyter (1848–1932) in 1888. The lyrics have been translated into about 100 languages, and the song is widely sung around the world. Here is the 2-stanza version of the translation (by Charles Kerr) which is most often sung in the United States:
Arise, you prisoners of starvation!
Arise, you wretched of the earth!
For justice thunders condemnation:
A better world’s in birth!
No more tradition’s chains shall bind us,
Arise you slaves, no more in thrall!
The earth shall rise on new foundations:
We have been nought, we shall be all!
’Tis the final conflict,
Let each stand in his place.
The international working class
Shall be the human race
We want no condescending saviors
To rule us from their judgment hall,
We workers ask not for their favors
Let us consult for all:
To make the thief disgorge his booty
To free the spirit from its cell,
We must ourselves decide our duty,
We must decide, and do it well.
’Tis the final conflict,
Let each stand in his place.
The international working class
Shall be the human race
For further information about the Internationale see the Wikipedia entry.
[Ethics:] An intrinsic good or intrinsic value is something that is good or valuable in itself, and without considering further goals, needs or interests. Thus for most of us, love and friendship are intrinsic goods, as are most other things which result in joy or pleasure. It would seem that the opposite of an intrinsic good might be an “extrinsic good”, but most often the term used is instrumental good, which better brings out that the thing is useful as an instrument toward achieving some further goal or interest. Of course, many things are both intrinsically and instrumentally good, such as a good meal which is enjoyable in itself and also useful in continuing our lives and giving us the energy to pursue our other goals and interests.
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A term coined by the bourgeois philosopher Daniel Dennett to refer to little stories or considerations which are “designed to provoke a heartfelt, table-thumping intuition—‘Yes, of course, it has to be so!’—about whatever thesis is being defended.” [Dennett, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (2013), pp. 5-6.] In other words, something which promotes a specific viewpoint or theory in a particularly convincing sort of way. A thought experiment is one sort of intuition pump. The viewpoint or theory promoted may actually be correct or incorrect, good or bad, and the specific intuition pump may therefore be something which serves a positive or negative role in social discourse.
An example of an intuition pump with a negative influence was the supposed “proof” of the existence of God before the scientific theory of evolution was elaborated by Darwin: “How else to explain the existence of human beings and the other animals and plants?” However, once evolutionary theory had been elaborated, it itself became a powerful and positive intuition pump supporting the view that there is no good reason to believe in God after all! (Note that even this specific positive intuition pump is by itself not conclusive; it is conceivable that some “god” created life and human beings through the means of evolution. A scientific proof that God definitely does not exist is possible only by coming to understand that mind and mental phenomena are of necessity high level ways of looking at (i.e., functions of) the activity of brains or their physical equivalent, and therefore no “disembodied mind” (as God is supposed to be) can possibly exist. Nevertheless, even just an understanding of the basic scientific principle of evolution already goes a long way towards undercutting the ancient crude, semi-plausible rationale for believing in God.)
1. The view that intuition is the primary source of knowledge, or important parts of it. Henri Bergson was one prominent idealist philosopher who championed this view.
2. [In ethics:] The view that moral terms such as ‘good’ or ‘right’ are indefinable in other terms, that the meanings of these moral terms are “self-evident” and can only be understood through one’s “intuition”. G.E. Moore was one of its leading advocates.
The invention of new machines and new production techniques is something which is furthered by the sociopolitical advancement of society. Invention was much fostered with the advent of capitalism, was additionally fostered with the advent of capitalist-imperialism, and will be fostered to an even greater degree under socialism and communism when workers and technicians come to understand that their new ideas benefit both themselves and the people in general, and not just a handful of capitalists!
“Competition becomes transformed into monopoly. The result is immense
progress in the socialization of production. In particular, the process of technical
invention and improvement becomes socialized.
“This is something quite different from the old free competition between manufacturers, scattered and out of touch with one another, and producing for an unknown market.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, LCW 22:205.
INVERSION [In contemporary corporate finance]
A method of avoiding taxes on corporate profits by buying up another company in a lower-tax country, moving the headquarters of the combined company to that other country, and thus “officially” becoming a foreign corporation. U.S. corporations with huge foreign profits presently do not need to pay U.S. taxes on those profits until they “repatriate” the money (i.e., send it back to the corporate headquarters in the U.S.). Inversion allows them to avoid those and other taxes permanently.
As of late September 2014, at least 75 major corporations (including the fast food giant, Burger King) have already pulled this inversion scam and cheated the U.S. government out of billions of dollars in corporate taxes. Congress has recently been debating whether to change the law to make this sort of tax cheating more difficult, though many in Congress (who more directly represent these cheating corportions) favor just lowering corporate taxes even further so that companies have no need to pull this scam in the first place. (The U.S. corporate tax rate has already been lowered to an official 35%; however, the plethora of tax loopholes means that most corporations pay a much lower rate, many of them less than 10% and each year many corportions already pay no taxes whatsoever.)
See also: CORPORATE TAXES, TAX LOOPHOLES
This is a puzzle or sort of a thought experiment championed by those influenced by philosophical idealism (as most of us have been to some degree in this society!). It is often presented along these lines:
How do I know that others see what I call red when they look at something that is red? Sure, they also call it red, but how do I know it looks the same to them as red looks to me? Couldn’t they be having the same subjective experience as I have when I look at blue things, for example? And couldn’t they have the subjective experience of seeing “redness” when they look at what we both call blue things?
In Chapter 23 of his book I Am A Strange Loop (NY: Basic Books, 2007), pages 333-338,
Douglas Hofstadter discusses this riddle at length and utterly demolishes it. (If this riddle
really bothers you, I suggest you go there for the full antidote! I’ll just refer to a few of
his points here.)
Hofstadter notes that those who are impressed by this inverted spectrum argument make the unacknowledged assumption that “our experiences of redness and blueness are totally disconnected from physics”. The feeling of a color, they think, is some sort of individual invention which two different people could “invent” in two entirely different ways. Actually, if two different people have senses which are more or less equally capable of discriminating light of a certain color, and whose brains have neural networks which signal when this specific color of light is detected, then there is every reason to believe that the subjective experience of the two people is also equivalent. Why would evolution have developed two wildly diverse subjective neural networks on top of what is necessary to recognize and register the presence of a given color in an object? Moreover, if the two people had developed these additional unnecessary subjective neural networks (to reflect this differing subjective “redness” or “blueness”), this would be discoverable by the close inspection of the two different brains. No such differences in brains have been discovered, and no neurophysiologists really believe that they ever will be.
Hofstadter goes on to note that any presumed difference in subjective feeling associated with the same color would therefore have to be entirely unrelated to any physical structure of the brain or its neural networks. In other words, the differences would have to be entirely in the realm of mind as opposed to physical brains. Thus, this notion of the possibility of “inverted spectrums” (and of generalizations of the idea encompassed under the name of “qualia”) must of necessity imply a dualistic theory of mind and brain (matter). And dualism, from the materialist perspective, and since it denies that matter is the necessary basis for all mental phenomena, is merely a variety of philosophical idealism.
1. [From the point of view of capitalists and well-off people in bourgeois society:] The outlay of money with the goal of “making” (later receiving back) more money or profit.
2. [From the strict point of view of Marxist political economy:] “The conversion of money into productive capital.” [Marx, Capital, vol. III, ch. 6, sect. 2, (International, p. 111; Penguin, p. 207, which has “transformation” instead of “conversion”).]
INVESTMENT — Falling Corporate Rate Of
Corporations have the option of reinvesting their profits (by building new factories and increasing production, etc.), or by distributing those profits to shareholders in the form of dividends, or else by just building up piles of cash on hand. During boom times, when further profits can easily be made by building new factories and expanding production, corporations naturally put a greater proportion of their profits to that use. But during an overproduction crisis, when corporations cannot even sell all that they can already produce, their strong tendency is to avoid new productive investment, and to expand their dividends to shareholders and to build up their excess cash in company bank accounts.
In the graph at the right, we see how the ratio of corporate reinvestment of profits to the dividend distributions has declined in a major way since the beginnings of the current U.S. and world capitalist overproduction crisis in the early 1970s. The continuing decline is especially pronounced over the past decade, which includes the period of the “Great Recession” (which for the working class still continues). Bourgeois publications such as the Economist claim that this low and still falling rate of reinvestment is due to extraneous factors, such as incorrect “incentives” given to corporate managers. But the real explanation is much simpler: It makes no sense to build new factories when you can’t fully use all those you already have.
See also INVESTMENT STRIKE below.
A refusal to invest in productive capital (factories, machinery, etc.) by the capitalists who have plenty of money available to do so. Since investment is the means by which capitalists expand their wealth and power, why would they ever slow down or halt their further investment? Two explanations for why this can sometimes happen are:
1) For temporary political reasons, such as to force the collapse of a social-democratic or other reformist government which the capitalists perceive as being insufficiently supportive of their interests;
2) Because of a serious overproduction crisis in which large numbers of capitalists do not see any profitable investment opportunities because they already have many factories which are partially or completely idle.
The absurd idea that the public interest is best served if everyone looks out only for their own private interests, and that the “public good” is somehow mysteriously generated out of all that private selfishness by some “invisible hand”!
[More introductory comments to be added...]
“But it is only for the sake of profit that any man employs a capital in
the support of industry...
“As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.” —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book IV, Chapter II, (Modern Library, 1937), p. 423.
IONIAN SCHOOL [Philosophy: 6th century BCE]
The Ionian School of ancient Greek philosophy (also known as the Ionic or Miletian school), arose in the city of Miletus which was a trading and cultural center of the ancient world located on the coast of Asia Minor. This was the earliest school of naturalistic materialism in the history of Greek philosophy, and is also considered to be the first school of scientific speculation about the nature of the world—i.e., one of the earliest sources of ideas which could be reasonably viewed as early scientific theories. Its most famous individuals were Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes.
Although they were materialists, the Ionians were what we would now view as very naïve materialists, and really had not much of any understanding of how mind and mental phenomena can be viewed as arising from an appropriate complex organization of matter (a brain). Instead, they were called hylozoists (those who “put life into matter”), and they seem to have believed that all matter itself, at least in an elemental way, is actually capable of what we would now call mental processes such as having feelings. In this way the Ionians could also be viewed as early precursors of something like the sort of dualism that Leibniz propounded, as much as true materialists in the modern sense. This, however, is often characteristic of naïve materialism in general.
“Ionian science was an endeavor marked by a strong interest in uncovering
fundamental laws to explain natural phenomena, a tremendous milestone in the history of
human ideas. Their approach was rational and in many cases led to conclusions supprisingly
similar to what our more sophisticated methods have led us to believe today. It
represented a grand beginning. But over the centuries much of Ionian science would be
forgotten—only to be rediscovered or reinvented, sometimes more than once....
“Scholars in ancient Ionia were among the first to explain natural phenomena through laws of nature rather than myth or theology....
“As the Ionian influence spread, there appeared others who saw that the universe possesses an internal order, one that could be understood through observation and reason. Anaximander (ca. 610 BC-ca. 546 BC), a friend and possibly a student of Thales, argued that since human infants are helpless at birth, if the first human had somehow appeared on earth as an infant, it would not have survived. In what may have been humanity’s first inkling of evolution, people, Anaximander reasoned, must therefore have evolved from other animals whose young are hardier.” —Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (2010), pp. 18-20.
IPO (Initial Public Offering)
The first sale to the public of stock in a corporation. The company is thus transformed from one which is “privately held” into a “publicly owned” corporation, where it is supposedly slightly more closely regulated by the government.
Huge fortunes are often made during IPOs, not only by those who previously owned the entire company, but also by the investment banks who arrange the offering, and by stock brokers with inside connections who are allowed to buy the new stock at a low price and then sell it at a much higher price. This is yet another mechanism by which Wall Street financiers rip off small investors.
[To be added...]
See also: MOSADDEGH, Mohammad
IRAQ — U.S. War Against (2003-?)
The U.S. imperialists, together with their junior partners including the British imperialists, have attacked Iraq twice in recent decades, in order to seize better control of its oil resources and to establish a military center for U.S. control of the whole Middle East. The second and larger war and invasion, also known as the Second Gulf War, began on March 20, 2003, and as of late 2011 it still continues, though with a much reduced level of fighting at the present time.
It is estimated that up to 1.2 million people have died as a result of the war, from both the direct results of the invasion and occupation, and from the sectarian conflict that then erupted between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other sections of the population. This figure apparently does not include the previous hundreds of thousands of deaths, especially of Iraqi children, during the severe blockade of Iraq during the 1990s and up until the 2003 invasion. In the photo at the right, 5-year old Samar Hassan screams in terror, and is covered in her innocent parent’s blood, after U.S. troops fired on their car and killed them in Tal Afar, Iraq, on the evening of Jan. 18, 2005. They were merely taking their other child, Samar’s sick brother, to the hospital.
The stated goal of this war by the American and British imperialists was to liquidate the threat to their interests posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s supposed arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction” (chemical, biological and, “potentially” it was claimed, nuclear weapons). Despite exhaustive seaching, no such weapons or weapons programs were found in Iraq after the invasion, and it became obvious that this was a mere pretense, which perhaps the imperialists convinced themselves existed because they needed some excuse to invade Iraq.
The real primary reasons for the attack and invasion were quite obvious. Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in the Mideast in its proven oil reserves. The U.S. State Department, in a memorandum as far back as 1945, termed the Mideast as a “stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. In addition it was necessary to move the U.S. military forces in the region out of Saudi Arabia (after the violent attacks by Saudi militants in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001). What better place to move them than Iraq, with its huge oil resources, and—as a plus—right next door to Iran, which the imperialists also expect to attack at some point. There were also a number of less important additional reasons, such as their need to slap down Saddam Hussein, a tyrant they had put in power in the first place, but who had grown too big for his britches (too independent) in their eyes.
From the point of view of actually promoting the interests and goals of U.S. and other foreign imperialism, this Iraq war and invasion has been a major and extraordinary expensive failure. Far from quickly seizing control of Iraq and the surrounding area, this imperialist intervention has further destabilized the entire region. The offical figure for the U.S. funds spent or allocated on this war (as of Nov. 2010) was already more than $900 billion. Much of the actual cost, however, has been hidden in the general military and other federal government budgets. The final tally, including all the expenditures for health care for veterans, replacement of war materials used up in this war, etc., will be at least $1.5 trillion, and some estimates run as high as $3 trillion. At a time when the U.S. and world capitalist economic crisis is intensifying as never before, this war has obviously been an extremely foolish one, even from the point of view of the interests of the imperialists themselves!
India Reserve Battalion. This is one of the many government paramilitary forces seeking to destroy Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries) in India.
IRON RICE BOWL
A reference to the de facto lifetime guarantee by the revolutionary government of China during the Mao era that every person would have employment at a living wage—and thus be guaranteed of sufficient food. Once conditions in China had settled down after the revolution and transformation of the economy into socialism, and after a few initial missteps (such as during the Great Leap Forward), this “Iron Rice Bowl” guarantee was solidly in place until the revisionists (under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping) seized power after Mao’s death. The new bourgeoisie in power was able to smash even this iron rice bowl.
The theory that scientific investigation and rational thinking are not the correct paths to truth and understanding, but rather that the correct path lies in some inexplicable or mystical means such as intuition (see intuitionism above). Of course it is inconsistent (and rather incoherent) to attempt to provide a rational argument for irrationalism, but many people with religious impulses have nevertheless tried to do so.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about irrationalism.
IS-OUGHT [In Ethics]
ISKRA [“The Spark”]
The first All-Russian illegal Marxist newspaper, founded by Lenin in December 1900. It had to be published outside of Russia and smuggled into the country. It became a rallying center and focus for establishing Marxist revolutionary groups in a number of Russian cities, and facilitated the real establishment of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (at the so-called “Second Party Congress” in July-August 1903). In late 1903, after Plekhanov went over to the side of the Mensheviks, Lenin left the Iskra editorial board. Plekhanov then co-opted a number of Mensheviks onto the editorial board and it became an opportunist Menshevik newspaper.
More details about the formation of Iskra, and the struggle within the RSDLP over it, can be found in footnote 5, LCW 5:533-535.
As Lenin often remarked, due to the complexity of most situations, and modern society as a whole, it is always possible to find isolated facts to “prove” any theory whatsoever. The truth arises not from isolated facts, but from an analysis developed from a comprehensive evaluation of all the most important facts. Those who try to understand complicated situations or structures on the basis of isolated facts and very limited investigation will virtually never succeed.
“In order to depict this objective position one must not take examples or isolated data (in view of the extreme complexity of the phenomena of social life it is always possible to select any number of examples or separate data to prove any proposition), but all the data on the basis of economic life in all the belligerent countries and the whole world.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1916), LCW 22:190. [Lenin is explaining here how the true class nature of the inter-imperialist war then in progress had to be determined.]
“To make the picture a graphic one, to obtain a real picture instead of a heap of disconnected, disjointed, and isolated facts and incidents, to put a stop to the endless and senseless arguments over particular votings (who voted for whom and who supported whom?), I have decided to try to depict all the basic types of ‘divisions’ at our Congress in the form of a diagram. This will probably seem strange to a great many people, but I doubt whether any other method can be found that would really generalise and summarise the results in the most complete and accurate manner possible.” —Lenin, One Step Foreward, Two Steps Back: The Crisis in Our Party (1904), LCW vol. 7, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1904/onestep/n.htm. [In this example Lenin illustrates how a more comprehensive analysis than just “isolated facts” is necessary in order to understand what had really happened at the Second Party Congress of the RSDLP, who the different forces were, and so forth.]
“The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries call themselves socialists, but they are actually abettors of the counter-revolutionaries, abettors of the landowners and capitalists. This was proved in practice not only by isolated facts, but by two big periods in the history of the Russian revolution: (1) the Kerensky period, and (2) the Kolchak period. Both times the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, while professing to be ‘socialists’ and ‘democrats’, actually played the role of abettors of the whiteguards. Are we then going to be so foolish as to believe them now they are suggesting we let them ‘try again’, and call our permission a ‘united socialist (or democratic) front’?” —Lenin, “Apropos of the Victory Over Kolchak” (Aug. 24, 1919), LCW vol. 29, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/aug/24.htm. [In this example Lenin illustrates how only a comprehensive evaluation of other political forces can allow a correct decision to be made about whether to form an alliance with them.]
The Zionist state which has been built, with the major support of British and U.S. imperialism, through theft of Palestinian lands and “ethnic cleansing” and genocide directed against the Palestinian people. [More to be added...]
See also: PALESTINE, SUEZ CANAL
ITALY — 1920 WORKER’S UPRISING
“In September 1920, Italian steelworkers occupied their mills on the
initiative of their trade union, which was in conflict with the association of
industrialists. The movement started in Turin and Milan, then spread through Piedmond
and Northern Italy across the country, from the metallurgical industry to other
industries and to agriculture. In Sicily and in other areas peasants occupied the
land. The scope of the movement jeoparized the capitalist regime, but the reformist
leaders of the Socialist Party and the trade unions, terrified by the political
character of the movement, adopted a decision to confine it to within the trade unions
and prevent it from developing into a revolution. They also decided to start
negotiations with the industrialists.
“This was a hard blow at the Italian workers’ movement and showed the leaders inability to lead the mass forces. Fascism used the confusion within the working class to start its armed offensive in Italy.” —Endnote 131, LCW 32.
“The revolution in Italy will run a different course from that in Russia. It will start in a different way. How? Neither you nor we know. The Italian Communists are not always Communists to a sufficient degree. Did a single Communist show his mettle when the workers seized the factories in Italy? [This refers to the events mentioned in endnote 131 above. —Ed.] No. At that time, there was as yet no communism in Italy; there was a certain amount of anarchism, but no Marxian communism. The latter has still to be created and the masses of the workers must be imbued with it by means of the experience of the revolutionary struggle. And the first step along this road is a final break with the Mensheviks, who for more than twenty years have been collaborating and working with the bourgeois government.” —Lenin, “Speech on the Italian Question” (at the Third Congress of the Communist International, June 28, 1921), LCW 32:465.
See: INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
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