Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Mi - Mn   —


MICHURIN, Ivan Vladimirovich   (1855-1935)
Russian horticulturalist whose theory of cross-breeding was based on the idea that acquired characteristics of plants and animals could be inherited. Unfortunately, this erroneous theory was adopted by
Trofim Lysenko and became for a long while the official doctrine of the Soviet Union during the years of Stalin and Khrushchev. This led to considerable damage to Soviet genetic research and Soviet agriculture.

MICROECONOMICS
A term used (mostly in bourgeois economics) to refer to studies or descriptions of small and semi-isolated parts of the economy, such as how individual firms or households typically function from an economic perspective. Compare with
macroeconomics which studies the overall operation of the economy.

MIDDLE AGES
The period of about 1,000 years, from the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire at around 500 C.E. (“A.D.”) to about 1500 C.E. In other words, roughly the period of
feudalism in Europe.

[Referring to the Middle Ages:] “The thousand years of barbarism and religion.” —Edward Gibbon

“MIDDLE CLASS”
        1. [Obsolete, but still sometimes used in bourgeois academic writing:] The capitalist class or
bourgeoisie, which was originally the “middle” class between the feudal nobility and the lower laboring classes (peasantry, serfs, craftsmen and workers).
        2. [In common bourgeois usage:] A vague sort of class category, which is occasionally more precisely defined on the basis of arbitrary family income ranges, such as “families which have an income of more than $20,000 per year and less than $500,000 per year”. As this example shows, the “middle class” in current U.S. establishment parlance is assumed to include the greatest part of the American population.
        While bourgeois writers prefer not to talk about social classes at all, they are sometimes forced to do so. But when they do, they never use Marxist class terms which are defined on the basis of definite relationships of groups of people to the means of production. Instead, vaguely or arbitrarily defined “classes” are referred to, such as the middle class or the “poor” or the “underclass” (which is usually racist code for “poor or unemployed Black people”). As the term is currently used, the “middle class” actually consists mostly of the better-off and somewhat more secure strata of the working class (proletariat), though it also includes the entire petty bourgeoisie. In contemporary American society the dominant political attitudes of the “middle class” are generally those which are characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie.
        However, the “middle class” is not stable in its size, composition or attitudes. Individuals in the middle class can move up into the bourgeoisie or (far more commonly) be pushed down into the lower strata of the working class. During the long period of the rise of American imperialism in the 20th century the American middle class hugely expanded—as a portion of the wealth extracted by the imperialist ruling class from the rest of the world was allowed to go to the upper and better organized sections of the U.S. working class. This was done in order to keep the peace and allow better social stability at home when it became necessary for the rulers to engage in almost constant imperialist wars abroad.
        The 1950s and 1960s were the peek period for the relative size and real wealth of the U.S. “middle class”. Around 1973 the post-World War II boom in the U.S. economy ended, and we entered the period we now call the “Long Slowdown”. During this period the ruling class found it necessary to take more and more of its growing economic problems out on the backs of the working class, especially on the lower strata but also on those better-off strata in the “middle class”. Neoliberalist policies of cutting back on the welfare state, destroying unions, driving down real wages, and eliminating more and more worker’s benefits were put in place and were gradually intensified. If it were not for the fact that many more women were able to find jobs, and thus turn most families into two paycheck homes, many more people would have already been pushed out of the middle class entirely. In the 21st century the economy has already shown signs of taking even more serious turns for the worse, as the Long Slowdown has turned into a period of in-and-out-of-recessions with only very short and shallow “recoveries” in between them. A number of Marxists predict that the U.S. and world economy are now poised to soon take an even worse turn into a protracted period of outright depression.
        In any case, the “middle class” along with the lower strata of the working class are now clearly under ever-intensifying attack. More people are losing their jobs or being forced to take worse jobs with much lower pay and fewer (if any) benefits. The adult children of middle class parents are now very often worse off than their parents, and often unable to afford homes of their own. (See: AMERICAN DREAM) And the fraction of the population which even has jobs at all is dropping rapidly (though with smaller ups and downs within the powerful overall trend). This is due not only to the still developing overproduction crisis, but also to the fact that the rapid development of technology is automating more and more jobs out of existence, now in the “white-collar” and “knowledge-worker” spheres as well as in the “blue-collar” sphere.
        This heavy and sustained attack on the middle class, and the consequent decline of that “class”, is forcing some major changes in the political attitudes prevalent in it and among people who were once part of the middle class but who have been driven out of it. (See the next entry below.)

“MIDDLE CLASS” — Changing Attitudes Within
As mentioned in the primary entry above, and because the “middle class” is now under serious attack and is being driven down, the political ideas and attitudes prevalent within that so-called “class” are now changing quite noticeably and quite rapidly in historical terms. They are still basically that of the
petty bourgeoisie, but the strong trend is toward further growing disgruntlement and outright anger.
        In particular, there is now growing hostility towards politicians in general and towards the government, especially the U.S. Federal government in Washington, D.C., which people recognize ever more clearly simply does not serve their interests. For example, negative public opinion about the U.S. Congress is now at its most severe level ever, with only a 7% approval rating.
        Another illustration of this growing anger is the advent of the Tea Party movement. Although this amorphous movement has largely been co-opted by conservatives within the Republican Party, it nevertheless still has a strong undercurrent of hostility towards Wall Street and Big Business (giant corporations). Liberal Democrats generally find the Tea Party movement horrifying, because liberals have a continuing faith in government under the capitalist system, though even some of them are starting to waver. (An illustration of this is the growing credibility Democrats give to what the media calls “socialism”, and to social-democratic politicians like Bernie Sanders.) However, most liberals just do not understand why the Tea Party movement has arisen, or why it—in one form or another—will continue and grow stronger. (One exception to this is Robert Reich, the bourgeois liberal former Secretary of Labor whose comments are quoted below.)
        While this growing middle-class disgruntlement and anger at corporations and their government is certainly justified and welcome, there are obviously also some serious problems here. The level of political understanding of the U.S. middle class, and the American masses in general, is still extremely low. Political ignorance is rampant. The number of people who have any genuine class consciousness in the Marxist sense is extremely low. And mixed in with this growing anger against Wall Street, the corporations and their politicians and government, are some very dangerous and worrisome views, such as rampant racism, scapegoating immigrants and even outright xenophobia, and widespread support for U.S. imperialist wars—especially if the proclaimed enemy are Muslims. The Tea Party movement and other sorts of spontaneous anger developing among the middle class is fairly easily manipulated by demogogues such as Donald Trump. And this same increasingly victimized middle class is the potential social base for the likely development at some point of full-scale fascism in the U.S.
        See also: PRECARIOUSNESS OF THE PROLETARIAT (especially quote by Carolyn O’Hara about the growing “middle class” precariousness).

“The great American middle class has become an anxious class—and it’s in revolt. Before I explain how that revolt is playing out, you need to understand the sources of the anxiety.
        “Start with the fact that the middle class is shrinking, according to the Pew Research Center.
        “The odds of falling into poverty are frighteningly high, especially for the majority of the population who lack college degrees.
        “Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Most could lose their jobs at any time. Many are part of a burgeoning ‘on-demand’ workforce—employed as needed, paid whatever they can get whenever they can get it. Yet if they don’t keep up with rent or mortgage payments, or can’t pay for groceries or utilities, they’ll lose their footing.
        “Overwhelming sense of fragility
        “The stress is taking a toll. For the first time in history, the life spans of middle-class whites are dropping. According to research by Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton and his co-researcher Anne Case, middle-aged white men and women in the United States have been dying earlier. They’re poisoning themselves with drugs and alcohol or committing suicide.
        “The odds of being gunned-down in America by a jihadist are far smaller than the odds of such self-inflicted deaths, but the recent tragedy in San Bernardino [where a number of people were murdered in an attack by a pair of religious fanatics] only heightens an overwhelming sense of arbitrariness and fragility.
        “The anxious class feels vulnerable to forces over which they have no control. Terrible things happen for no reason. Yet government can’t be counted on to protect them.
        “[Social] safety nets are full of holes. Most people who lose their jobs don’t even qualify for unemployment insurance. Government won’t protect their jobs from being outsourced to Asia or being taken by a worker here illegally.
        “Government can’t even protect them from evil people with guns or bombs. Which is why the anxious class is arming itself, buying guns at a record rate.
        “They view government as not so much incompetent as not giving a damn. It’s working for the big guys and fat cats—the crony capitalists who bankroll candidates and get special favors in return.
        “When I visited so-called ‘red states’ [conservative Republican states] this fall, I kept hearing angry complaints that government is run by Wall Street bankers who get bailed out after wreaking havoc on the economy, corporate titans who get cheap labor and billionaires who get tax loopholes.
        “Last year, two highly respected political scientists, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, took a close look at 1,799 policy decisions Congress made over the course of more than 20 years, and who influenced those decisions. Their conclusion: ‘The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically insignificant impact upon public policy.’
        “It was only a matter of time before the anxious class would revolt. They’d support a strongman like Donald Trump who’d promise to protect them from all the chaos....
        “World slowly unraveling
        “For years I’ve heard the rumbles of the anxious class. I’ve listened to their growing anger—in union halls and bars, in coal mines and beauty parlors, on the Main Street and byways of the washed-out backwaters of America.
        “I’ve heard their complaints and cynicism, their conspiracy theories and their outrage. Most are good people, not bigots or racists. They work hard and have a strong sense of fairness. But their world has been slowly coming apart. And they’re scared and fed up.
        “Now someone comes along who’s even more of a bully than those who for years have bullied them economically, politically and even violently. The attraction is understandable, even though misguided.
        “If not Donald Trump, then it will be someone else posing as a strongman. If not this election cycle, it will be the next one. The revolt of the anxious class has just begun.”
         —Robert Reich, former U.S Secretary of Labor during the Clinton Administration, “What America’s anxious middle class sees in Trump”, San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 20, 2015, p. D8. [Well, of course, a mere electoral “revolt” is not a real revolt, and the liberal perspective here is also off in other ways. For example, Reich also does not face up to the real danger of fascist tendencies in the U.S. middle class in the decades ahead. And racism is a much bigger problem than he suggests. But in many ways this article does reflect the angry attitudes which have developed, and which will inevitably develop much further, in the U.S. “middle class”. —Ed.]

MIDDLE EAST
[To be added...]
        See also:
SYKES-PICOT CARVE-UP

MIDDLE EAST — Oil Resources

“It was on the back of a napkin, historians tell us, that Franklin Roosevelt established the claim to American primacy in Saudi Arabia. ‘Persian oil is yours,’ FDR’s 1944 scribble told Britain’s ambassador. ‘We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabian oil, it is ours.’”
         —“Terror Targets the Claim FDR Staked”, U.S. News & World Report, July 8, 1996, p. 14. [We rarely see such an open and revealing admission of imperialist logic. —Ed.]

“What’s our oil doing under their sands?!
         —Deliberately ironic slogan of the U.S. anti-war movement, as the U.S. imperialists were about to launch their war in Iraq, March 2003.

MIDDLE PEASANT
1. [In China before collectivization in the 1950s:] A peasant (farmer) who owned enough land, work animals and farm equipment, so that he and his family could survive by working their own land. Middle peasants (most of the time) neither hired other peasants to work for them, nor themselves worked for
rich peasants or landlords.
2. People in a similar situation at other times and places.
        See also: CHINA—Class Analysis Before 1949

MiG
The Soviet military aircraft design bureau which designed many sophisticated jet fighter planes. It was established in 1939 and named after its two founding and leading designers, Artem Mikoyan (an Academician and Air Force General, and youngest brother of the well-known politician Anastas Mikoyan) and Mikhail Gurevich.
        After the fall of the Soviet Union, MiG became a private company (still building military aircraft for Russia) and later merged with other Russian aircraft companies.

MIGRATION
The movement of people from one country or region to another. This is most often done for economic reasons, though in some cases it is done to escape ethnic, religious or political persecution. Migration is an increasingly important aspect of the globalized world economy. As of 2010 almost 3% of the world’s population (nearly 200 million people) live and work outside their native country. [Data from the Economic and Social Research Council, an organization funded by the British government.] Migrant workers and their families are very frequently subject to much increased exploitation, and to racism and mistreatment.

MIKHAILOVSKY, N. K.   (1842-1904)
Russian sociologist, political writer and literary critic who was a prominent ideologist of the liberal
Narodniks. Lenin extensively criticized Mikhailovsky’s views in his early work “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are” (1894) [LCW 1:129ff].
        Mikhailovsky was widely and appropriatedly viewed as a subjective sociologist because of his opposition to what he considered to be “Marxist determinism”. He founded an influential journal Russkoe Bogatstvo [“Russian Wealth”] which published a number of studies of the rural situation in Russia from a Norodnik perspective. These materials later served as a major part of the foundation for the theory and policies of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (founded in 1902).

MILETIAN SCHOOL
See:
IONIAN SCHOOL

MILITARISM
        1) The heavy emphasis upon building up military power and using it (what bourgeois experts term “power projection”) to solve problems confronted by imperialism. This program is typically tied to maintaining control of a strategically important region of the world. Militarism is one avenue by which the bourgeoisie might seek to resolve such problems; others including diplomacy, bribery to foreign compradors, sponsoring coups and destabilization in the targeted country, economic strangulation, and other means short of outright war. At various times and for various reasons, different sectors of the bourgeoisie may favor militarism over these alternatives. This could be because of a convergence of the interests of particular capitalists and their representatives and allies in the state apparatus who favor war for their own parochial interests (for example, because they are close to the arms industry or the military, either financially or ideologically), or because the actions that do not deploy overt military force are failing and there is no real choice left but to use it (from the point of view of imperialism’s interests, though of course the capitalist state, when it does pursue war, will always try to portray its actions as being in the interests of “the people”, both at home and in the targeted country).
        In the current capitalist-imperialist era, militarism is a particularly important feature of American foreign policy, and has come to define and characterize it more and more. The United States spends roughly as much as the rest of the world combined on its military; even “in spite” of the end of the Cold War, US military spending has continued to rise. The United States is also the world’s leading exporter of arms and military training, much of which goes to repressive “Third World” dictatorships and other troubled regions.
        2) An ideological framework in which the military is bestowed with almost divine status and adulation by political, media and cultural pundits, who also seek to imbue the masses with the view of a sacrosanct military. This is typically a feature of fascist regimes who want to regiment the population and turn them into mindless foot-soldiers who are ready to die without question. It is also, arguably, a feature of creeping fascism of the sort that some see taking shape in the United States. —L.C.
        See also:
GUN BOAT DIPLOMACY,   IRAQ WAR,   PENTAGON SYSTEM,   LOCKHEED MARTIN

MILITARY BASES
See:
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM—Foreign Military Bases

MILITARY DRAFT
See:
DRAFT [Military],   “VIETNAM SYNDROME”

MILITARY EXPENDITURES
One of the most outrageously criminal aspects of the contemporary capitalist world is that the bourgeoisie of virtually every country spends enormous sums on building and maintaining its military forces. Why do they all do this? First, as a powerful force kept in reserve to maintain their rule over their own people, and to put down any mass revolts. And second, for wars or preparations for wars with other countries to steal their wealth.
        Of course it is the imperialist countries which today spend the most enormous sums for wars and war preparations. And the world’s imperialist superpower, the United States, of course tops the list by a very wide margin. Not only does the U.S. spend almost as much as the rest of the nations of the world combined, it is still increasing its military expenditures overall. In 2009, for example, U.S. military expenditures grew by another 7.7%. (Most of the statistics in this entry come from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, especially their summary “Recent trends in military expenditure” at:
http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/trends.)
        Today the U.S. is engaged in multiple imperialist wars, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yeman, the Horn of Africa, etc. The biggest of these at the moment is in Afghanistan/Pakistan, where in 2010 alone the U.S. will spend more (even in inflation adjusted terms) than its entire expenditures for the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined! [Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, Dec. 25, 2010.]
        World military expenditures in 2009 were estimated to be more than $1.53 trillion! That was an increase of 49% over 2000 (in real terms). The world’s capitalist-imperialists are preparing for even more wars, and even more expensive wars, in the future.

MILITARY EXPENDITURES
The 12 Highest Countries in 2009

(In U.S. dollars at current prices and exchange rates.)
Rank Country Military
Spending
($billions)
Change from
2000-2009
(%)
Spending
per capita
Share of
GDP (2008)
World
Share
(%)
Comments
1   USA 661     75.8      2,100     4.3      43     U.S. expenditures nearly match all
the rest of the world combined!
2   China 100*   217      74.6*   2.0*    6.6*   Fastest growing military
expenditures of major countries.
3   France 63.9     7.4      1,026     2.3      4.2    
4   UK 58.3     28.1      946     2.5      3.8    
5   Russia 53.3*   105      378*   3.5*    3.5*  
6   Japan 51.0     -1.3      401     0.9      3.3    
7   Germany 45.6     -6.7      555     1.3      3.0    
8   Saudi Arabia** 41.2     66.9      1,603     8.2      2.7    
9   India 36.3     67.3      30.4     2.6      2.4    
10   Italy 35.8     -13.3      598     1.7      2.3    
11   Brazil 26.1     38.7      135     1.5      1.7    
12   South Korea 24.1     48.2      499     2.8      1.6    
      * Estimates.
      ** Figures for Saudi Arabia include expenditures for public order (police, etc.).
      Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, at:
      http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/milex_15   [12/26/10]

“MILITARY KEYNESIANISM”
Government budget deficits which are occasioned specifically by large military expenditures. Capitalist governments are often very reluctant to spend money on public works or the health and welfare of the working class, even if the main purpose in doing so is to boost the overall economy through
Keynesian deficit spending. But capitalist governments are willing to spend much more freely on expanding their military might, and are therefore much more willing to create “fiscal deficits” to boost the economy that way.
        For example, most capitalist countries were not able to even temporarily suspend the Great Depression of the 1930s through large deficit-causing public works programs and other social expenditures; the best that most of them, including the U.S., could do along those lines was to somewhat mitigate the effects of that extremely severe overproduction crisis through rather small government deficits. But all these countries were quite willing to run truly colossal deficits for war production just before and during World War II. That military Keynesianism suspended the Depression until the massive destruction of capital during the war ended it completely.

MILL, James   (1773-1836)
British economist and philosopher, who vularized the political economy of
Ricardo. James Mill was a close friend of Jeremy Bentham and the father of John Stuart Mill.

MILL, John Stuart   (1806-1873)
British economist and positivist philosopher. Following in the footsteps of his father, James Mill (see above), and his godfather
Jeremy Bentham, he became the most famous proponent of utilitarianism, in the hedonistic form that Bentham gave to it.
        Also following in the footsteps of Bentham and his father, he became the most prominent vulgarizer of classical political economy in the 19th century. He advocated conciliation between the interests of the bourgeoisie and the interests of the working class, and thought that the contradictions of capitalism could be overcome by reforming the methods of distribution into some vague bourgeois version of “socialism”.

MILLERAND, Alexandre Etienne   (1859-1943)
A reactionary French politician. Though a socialist in the 1890s, in 1899 he betrayed socialism and accepted a ministerial role in the French bourgeois government. He was roundly condemned by Lenin for this betrayal in numerous articles.

“MILLERANDISM”
An opportunist trend in Western European socialist parties at the beginning of the 20th century wherein nominally proletarian revolutionary parties struck bargains and agreements with the ruling class which allowed them some participation in bourgeois governments. Also known as
“ministerialism”. Millerandism is a term used by Lenin in his 1908 article “Marxism and Revisionism” and elsewhere, and is named after the French “socialist” leader Alexandre Millerand who in 1899 became part of the reactionary French government and helped the bourgeoisie carry out imperialist policies.

MILLIONAIRES
A millionaire, in today’s parlance, is a person who has at least one million dollars in investible assets, not including the value of their home. (In this era of housing bubbles an ordinary home in the U.S. can now by itself be valued at a large fraction of $1 million!) Because of the growing polarization of wealth, the number of millionaires, or “high net-worth individuals”, is growing in almost all countries—at the same time as the number of poor and destitute people is becoming ever more vast.
        As of 2012 there were about 12 million millionaires in the world, about half of them in the U.S., Japan and Germany. The U.S. alone had 3.4 million millionaires, or about one-quarter of the total. This is a little more than 1% of the U.S. total population, so the famous “1%” that the Occupy Movement talked about were all at least millionaires! The combined wealth of these 3.4 million people was $46.2 trillion! Despite the continuing recession for the working class and ordinary people, the number of U.S. millionaires increased by 12% from 2011. In China, the number of millionaires increased at an even faster rate, by 14.3%.
        See also:
BILLIONAIRES

MIND
A set of ways of looking at the brain at work. In other words, a set of aspects, characteristics or functions of the brains of advanced animals (especially humans of course). Thus thinking is a high-level characterization of one sort of operation that a brain carries out, while a thought is a high-level characterization of the results of that brain process in a specific situation. Awareness, concern, boredom, worrying, happiness and all the countless other such mental states, are abstract characterizations of the physical states of the brain (which, if they could be described in purely neurophysiological terms would be incomprehensibly complex compilations of the states of neural networks and of millions or billions of individual neuronal states). The mind is not “identical to” the brain; it is rather the collection of all the high-level abstract views which we must necessarily have about how our brain is functioning.
        See also below, and:
FUNCTIONALISM,   IDENTITY THEORY   and philosophical doggerel about mind and matter.

MIND-BODY PROBLEM
The most basic question of philosophy: what is the nature of the relationship between mind and body (or between mind and brain, or mind and matter). The two big schools of thought are
materialism (that matter is primary and mind is a set of characteristics or functions of certain highly complex organizations of matter such as brains) and idealism (that mind or “spirit” is primary and that matter—if it really exists at all—is somehow a creation or outgrowth of mind). Dualism, the view that mind and matter are completely independent, is often considered a third option, though to materialists it just seems to be a variety of idealism since it denies that mind is a function or characteristic of certain complicated organizations of matter (brains).
        Although most educated people today understand that mental phenomena, such as ideas, memories and attitudes, are somehow the result of the functioning of the brain, it still seems very mysterious to many of them how this can possibly be the case. They fail to understand that mental phenomena such as having an idea or a memory are simply high level internal summations of very complicated organizations of many thousands or millions of neurons in the brain, their precise interconnections and the strength of those various interconnections. Since we have no conscious knowledge of the exact neurons and neural interconnections associated with a particular thought or memory, those mental phenomena can seem to us to be an entirely independent realm from the physical brain and its structures. This is the primary reason that idealist theories of the mind have arisen.

The Mind-Brain Problem. The problem of the relationship between mental and neurophysiological processes involves considerable difficulties. However, its analysis may be instrumental in elucidating some essential characteristics of the mind vis-a-vis the brain. If mental activity were lacking specificity, psychology would not be entitled to the status of an independent science and would have to be identified with the physiology of the nervous system.
        “Though mental activity is contingent upon and results from neurophysiological processes, the specificity of the mind is hard to define as the brain processes are in fact not represented in mental phenomena even in the ‘masked’ form. Mental processes reflect the characteristics of external objects (their shape, size, interaction), and not of internal, physiological process whereby this specificity of the mind, i.e., the reflection, representation of the outer world in the conditions of a bodily system is realized and brought out.
        “The main difficulty in the investigation of mental phenomena was the elusiveness of neurophysiological processes which were not represented in the content and structure of the mind. For this reason mental phenomena appeared ‘incorporeal’, ethereal, devoid of any substratum which gave the idealists cause to affirm the existence of an immaterial soul and construct various theories in support of this view. On the other hand, for this very reason the desire to adhere to the materialist principles in the investigation of mental phenomena sometimes led the researchers to the other extreme, the identification of the mental with the physiological, resulting in attempts to eliminate psychology in favor of physiology.” —Student’s Library: Psychology, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986), p. 32.

MINISTERIALISM
A form of political opportunism wherein a once-revolutionary party (or particular leaders of it) settle instead for ministerial positions within a bourgeois government rather than continuing to fight for complete political power for the proletariat.
        See also:
MILLERANDISM

MINSKY, Hyman   (1919-96)
American bourgeois economist of the Keynesian or “Post-Keynesian” school. He was the son of Menshevik emmigrants from Belarus, and sort of reflected that type of thinking within the more openly bourgeois American context. He received his Ph.D. at Harvard where he was influenced by
Joseph Schumpeter and Wassily Leontief. He taught at Brown University, the University of California—Berkeley, and then Washington University in St. Louis from 1965 until his retirement in 1990.
        Along with Keynes and almost all other economists strongly influenced by Keynes, Minsky did not understand that economic crises are inherent to the capitalist mode of production. He did not at all understand how crises derive ultimately from the very extraction of surplus value from the working class. But he did recognize that financial crises are inherent in at least the highly financialized form of capitalism as it now occurs in modern America:

“The normal functioning of our economy leads to financial trauma and crises, inflation, currency depreciations, unemployment and poverty in the midst of what could be virtually universal affluence—in short ... financially complex capitalism is inherently flawed.” —Hyman Minsky, Stabilizing an Unstable Economy (NY: 2008), p. 320. [Of course his claim here that capitalism, correctly organized and managed, could provide “virtually universal affluence” is totally ridiculous!]

“Capitalism is a flawed system in that, if its development is not constrained, it will lead to periodic deep depressions and the perpetuation of poverty.” —Hyman Minsky, quoted in John Bellamy Foster & Fred Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis (2009), p. 17. [Foster & Magdoff go on to point out, however, that Minsky did not believe that capitalism would necessarily lead to deep depressions. Instead, he thought that capitalist development could be “constrained”, and major crises could be avoided. In other words, he still had a bourgeois conception of the deepest reasons for capitalist economic crises.]

Minsky correctly viewed speculative investment bubbles as being “endogenous” in (internal to or inherent in) capitalist financial markets. But he attributed this to an inevitable “speculative euphoria” that develops during economic booms. This speculation he viewed as leading to massive debt accumulation, to the point where borrowers are not able to pay off their debts from their regular incoming revenues. Precisely why all this has to be the case, however, he was unable to clearly explain.
        If (a big if!) the workers actually were somehow able to buy all the goods that they collectively produce, then there would be no need for them to go into debt. Moreover, the capitalists could soon accumulate the additional new capital from their profits to expand production and keep the economy booming. Thus there would be no need for ever-larger debt in the economy at all. But, contrary to the conception of Minsky and other bourgeois economists, the workers cannot possibly buy back all that they produce because the value of their wages must always be significantly less than the value of the goods that they produce. Thus everything produced can only be sold if the workers are granted extensive and ever-growing credit. This credit (debt) constantly accumulates until it gets obviously excessive and its further expansion has to be limited more and more. Since the ability of the working class to buy all they produce must be curtailed by eventually restricting credit to them, there comes a time when it no longer makes sense to build more factories to further expand production. So what then are the capitalists to do with all the surplus value they have extracted? More and more they just create means for financial speculation. This is the true explanation for why the capitalists generate such “speculative euphorias” especially towards the end of boom periods, and why financialized capitalism itself inevitably develops. Thus Minsky’s notion that modern financialized capitalism can be controlled, regulated, or returned to a form of capitalism where crises do not develop is total bourgeois nonsense.
        Minsky stressed the importance of the central bank (the Federal Reserve in the U.S.) as the “lender of last resort” during an economic crisis. That, however, seems pretty obvious today. His “Financial Instability Hypothesis” model of the credit system was based on ideas of other bourgeois economists going back as far as Alfred Marshall and even John Stuart Mill. But because he had at least a partial understanding of the instability of modern financial capitalism he opposed the moves of the neo-liberal ideologists of the 1980s to deregulate the economy and predicted that this would eventually lead to intensified problems in the economy—as in fact it has done. But his theory that proper regulation, central bank operations and other government policies would be able to prevent capitalist economic and financial crises is totally erroneous.
        Nevertheless, because Minsky viewed modern financial capitalism, as it actually exists, as unstable and prone to crisis, his views are anathema to most bourgeois economists and the economics profession as a whole. With the outbreak of the major new financial crisis in 2008, however, some bourgeois economists are now giving his theories a more sympathetic look. Many of Minsky’s ideas have also been accepted and promoted by some semi-Marxist, semi-Keynesian political economists, such as those connected with the Monthly Review school.

“Minsky’s proposed solution to financial crisis was state intervention on two fronts: the government should run a big budget deficit and the central bank should pump money into the economy. It will be noted, despite Minsky’s pariah status in economics, that his remedy is exactly what has been adopted [in the current crisis]—in the US, the UK, the eurozone and much of the developed world. The problem is, it has not so far worked. Trillions of dollars of ready money, tax cuts and state spending were shovelled into the world economy to stop the credit crunch producing another Great Depression. Yet all these trillions are up against a powerful backwash of collapse within the real economy.” —Paul Mason, Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed, 2009, p. 156.

MINSKY MOMENT
A “moment” or turning point when what appeared to be a solid and stable capitalist economy and financial system is either on the verge of developing into a serious financial crisis, or actually begins to do so. The term, which is used mostly by bourgeois economists in the Keynesian tradition, honors the bourgeois economist Hyman Minsky (see entry above) who gave a partial (and somewhat confused) explanation for why financial crises arise in a financialized capitalist economy rife with debt. The gist of Minsky’s theory is that asset and investment bubbles inevitably arise in such a capitalist economy, and when the bubbles collapse many lenders are forced to suddenly reduce their exposure to bad debt, which in effect turns many of them into Ponzi-like schemes trying to keep their head above water by suckering in new investors. Sometimes the term “Minsky moment” is used to describe that immediate pre-crisis situation, and sometimes it is used to refer to the period when a full-fledged financial crisis actually begins.
        Minsky was, however, unable to adequately explain why this massive debt develops in the first place, or why capitalism is forced to become more and more financialized. He thus imagined that what his followers now call “Minsky moments” could be avoided, and severe capitalist crises could themselves be permanently avoided if the capitalist system were properly managed and regulated. This is utter nonsense.

MISCARRIAGE
See:
ABORTION—Spontaneous

MISCONCEPTIONS — Promoting in Tactics against the Enemy
See:
SURPRISE AND DECEPTION (In Tactics)

MISERS

“The boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange-value, is common to the capitalist and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending augmentation of exchange-value, which the miser strives after, by seeking to save his money from circulation, is attained by the more acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into circulation [in the form of further investment].” —Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Part II, Ch. 4: (International ed., p. 153; Penguin ed., pp. 254-5.)

MISERY INDEX
A rough indicator of the economic misery in a country at a particular time, which is defined as the sum of the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation. Thus if the official unemployment rate is 5.5% and the rate of inflation for consumer goods is officially 3.8%, the “misery index” would be 9.3%.
        As of December 2009, with the continuing development of the current economic crisis, the U.S. misery index reached 11.8%. The highest the U.S. index ever reached was 22% in 1980, during a period of both recession and very high inflation. But over the next few years, we should expect to see that record broken as the U.S. and world economy continue to move toward the Second Great Depression. Unemployment figures have already nearly equaled the 1980 level, and inflation will zoom up at some point as the government perpetually tries to pump up the economy with additional trillions of deficit dollars.
        Though popular with bourgeois journalists writing on economics, the misery index is pretty phony in a number of ways. The true rate of unemployment, for example, is much higher than the official rate, and the official rate of inflation is always more than they claim as far as the basic working class is concerned. (The price of expensive luxury goods doesn’t much concern us!) In addition, the standards used by the government to measure unemployment and inflation are not constant; in general, as time goes by the government more and more tries to hide the true situation by systematically distorting the real statistics. Moreover, unemployment and inflation are not equally bad (as the misery index tacitly assumes). For those who are actually unemployed, unemployment is far more serious. Still, it might be said that the changes in the misery index are somewhat useful in showing the current trends in the economy. And that trend at the present time is not at all good.

MISSING LINKS
The gaps that appear in the fossil record for intermediate species between the species that are represented in that record. It should be noted that when any “missing link” fossil is actually found, that merely creates two more somewhat smaller gaps on either side of it! So-called missing links in no way serve to discredit evolutionary science.

“Evolutionary theory makes a simple prediction. Complex traits arise via a series of small steps, each new step offering a small advantage over the last. Selection of the best-adapted traits means loss of the less well-adapted traits, so selection continuously eliminates intermediates. Over time, traits will tend to scale the peaks of an adaptive landscape, so we see the apparent perfection of eyes, but not the less perfect intermediate steps en route to their evolution. In The Origin of Species Darwin made the point that natural selection actually predicts that intermediates should be lost.” —Nick Lane, The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life, (NY: W.W. Norton, 2015), p. 45.
         [It should also be noted that the
punctuated equilibrium theory, which modifies the traditional total gradualism of previous evolutionary theory, only increases the tendency for there to be many, and fairly large gaps in the fossil record. —Ed.]

MISSIONARIES

“What would you say if I sent bonzes and lamas to preach in your country?” —Chinese emperor Ch’ien Lung. Quoted in William Hinton, Fanshen (1966), p. 58. Bonzes and lamas are English terms for Buddhist monks.

MISTAKES — Attitude Towards
        See also:
PAST MISTAKES

“Communists should not be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes have a dual character. On the one hand mistakes harm the Party and the people; on the other they serve as good teachers, giving both the Party and the people a good education, and this benefits the revolution. Failure is the mother of success. If there is nothing good about failure, how can it be the mother of success? When too many mistakes are made, there is bound to be a turn-about. That is Marxism. ‘Things turn into their opposites when they reach the extreme’; when mistakes pile up, light is not far off.” —Mao, “Some Experiences in Our Party’s History” (Sept. 25, 1956), SW 5:329.

MITTELSTAND
The large group of small and medium size companies in Germany, which play an important role in the German economy. As of 2012 they accounted for about 60% of German employment.

MLA
1. An abbreviation in various states in India for “Member of the Legislative Assembly”. In other words an assemblyman, or member of the legislature at the state level.
2. The Modern Language Association, an influential organization of academic professionals engaged in the teaching and study of language and literature. Though founded and pretty much centered in the U.S. it has a worldwide membership and scope.

MNC
See:
MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATION




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