Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Ra - Rd   —


RABOCHEYE DYELO   [Workers’ Cause]

Rabocheye Dyelo (Workers’ Cause) was an Economist journal, organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, published at irregular intervals in Geneva from April 1899 to February 1902 under the editorship of B. N. Krichevsky, P. F. Teplov (Sibiryak), V. P. Ivanshin, and later A. S. Martynov. Nine issues (three of them double ones, thus making twelve) appeared in all. The editorial board of Rabocheye Dyelo was the Economists’ center abroad. It supported Bernstein’s slogan of ‘freedom of criticism’ of Marxism, took an opportunist stand on the tactical and organizational problems of the Russian Social-Democratic movement, and denied the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry. The journal propagated the opportunist idea of the subordinating the workers’ political struggle to the economic and glorified spontaneity in the working-class movement, denying the leading role of the Party. One of its editors, V. P. Ivanshin, also took part in editing Rabochaya Mysl, organ of the avowed Economists, which Rabocheye Dyelo supported. At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., the Rabocheye Dyelo-ists represented the extreme Right, opportunist wing of the Party.” —Note 4, LCW 7.

From a biological (or genetic) perspective, there are really no such things as “races”, at least as anything along the lines in which the term is popularly understood. However, there are the very important socially constructed categories of race, which divide people into different “racial” categories based mostly on very superficial differences in appearence (such as skin color) or on the basis of generally minor cultural differences (such as forms of speech) and family traditions.
        In many countries, and especially in the United States, these biologically artificial racial designations become extremely important socially, and typically serve as the basis for widespread discrimination and mistreatment of non-white races and minority ethnic groups. The ruling class in the U.S. is overwhelmingly white, and this society strongly promotes the fostering of totally absurd racist attitudes of white superiority. Unfortunately, this ruling class attitude has also been widely promoted and adopted even within the working class, and this is a major obstacle to building class consciousness and class unity within the proletariat.
        [More to be added.]

The differences in average net wealth of different groups of people identified on the basis of their socially defined “race” [see entry above]. In a deeply racist country like the United States, with its extremely long, vicious and continuing history of discrimination against Blacks, Hispanics and other “non-white” or ethnic sections of the population, these differences in wealth are now huge, and continuing to grow. Moreover, during periods of economic crisis (such as the U.S. and world have now entered into for what is certain to be a very prolonged period), this “racial wealth gap” is growing faster than ever.

“Millions of Americans suffered a loss of wealth during the recession and the sluggish recovery that followed. But the last half-decade has proved far worse for black and Hispanic families than for white families, starkly widening the already large gulf in wealth between non-Hispanic white Americans and most minority groups, according to a new study from the Urban Institute.
        “‘It was already dismal,’ Darrick Hamilton, a professor at the New School in New York, said of the wealth gap between black and white households. ‘It got even worse.’
        “Given the dynamics of the housing recovery and the rebound in the stock market, the wealth gap might still be growing, experts said, further dimming the prospects for economic advancement for current and future generations of Americans from minority groups.
        “The Urban Institute study found that the racial wealth gap yawned during the recession, even as the income gap between white Americans and nonwhite Americans remained stable. As of 2010, white families, on average, earned about $2 for every $1 that black and Hispanic families earned, a ratio that has remained roughly constant for the last 30 years. But when it comes to wealth—as measured by assets, like cash savings, homes and retirement accounts, minus debts, like mortgages and credit card balances—white families have far outpaced black and Hispanic ones. Before the recession, non-Hispanic white families, on average, were about four times as wealthy as nonwhite families, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of Federal Reserve data. By 2010, whites were about six times as wealthy.
        “The dollar value of that gap has grown, as well. By the most recent data, the average white family had about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families. [It should be remembered that such statistics include the very rich (capitalists) as well as ordinary working class people. This explains why the averages are as high as they are! —S.H.]
        “‘The racial wealth gap is deeply rooted in our society,’ said Caroline Ratcliffe, one of the authors of the Urban Institute study. ‘It’s here, it’s not going away, and we need to care about it.’
        “... All in all, Hispanic families lost 44 percent of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, the Urban Institute estimates, and black families lost 31 percent. White families, by comparison, lost 11 percent of their wealth. The economic turbulence worsened a gap that has persisted for as long as social scientists have measured it, and has its roots in institutional racism, they said...” —“Wealth Gap Among Races Widened Since Recession”, New York Times, April 28, 2013.

RACIAL WEALTH GAP — Bourgeois Excuses For

“There has always been an attempt at justifying and explaining wealth inequality in the United States. The economic oppression of slavery was justified in the eighteenth century by a corrupted version of Christian dogma that held that the white race had a divine right to subject the black one. Then science was conscripted to do the dirty work of white supremacy as social Darwinism held that race hierarchy was nature’s will. Evolutionary theory and a sham science of eugenics and phrenology justified the wealth gap in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, economic theory was used to justify the wealth gap. Market fundamentalists such as Barry Goldwater, Milton Friedman, and Alan Greenspan held that the wealth gap was a natural result of market forces and that any government remedy was an inefficient market intervention. Black capitalism and its subsequent iterations became the modern era’s justification for wealth inequality. The theory held that the invisible hand had set the price of black credit, the value of black homes, and the cost of black labor.” —Mehrsa Baradaran, The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap (2017), p. 6.
         [Ms. Baradaran is only a liberal, so instead of blaming capitalism and the racism of the capitalist system in the U.S. she only condemns one trend of current capitalist ideology—that of the conservative economists. She fails to notice that her own long list of excuses for the racial wealth gap, which goes back centuries, shows a persistent and absolutely relentless effort by apologists for capitalism in every era to deflect the blame for this social outrage in any or all directions rather than towards the capitalist social system itself. —Ed.]

The oppression or mistreatment of, or discrimination against, people based on their skin color or socially perceived
“race”. [Much more to be added...]

IMPERIALISTS—Racist Attitudes Of

[To be added...]
        See also:

A journal of “radical” academic philosophy published in Britain since 1972. Although it claims to be a journal of “socialist and feminist philosophy” it has little connection with Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or with revolution. As this summary from its website demonstrates, it is mostly focused on pseudo-“Marxist”
Continental Philosophy:

“The journal is run by an Editorial Collective and appears 6 times a year. It features major academic articles by some of the most famous writers in contemporary left-wing and feminist philosophical, political and cultural thought, including Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Homi K. Bhabha, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Michèle Le Dœuff, Paul Feyerabend, Michel Foucault, Axel Honneth, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean Laplanche, Michael Löwy, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Richard Rorty, Peter Sloterdijk, Gayatri Spivak, Rick Turner, Paul Virilio and Slavoj Žižek. Each issue also has a large and diverse reviews section (reviewers have included Daniel Bensaïd, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson and Christopher Norris) as well as commentaries, obituaries, interviews (including Cornelius Castoriadis, Drucilla Cornel, Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Stuart Hall, Rem Koolhaas, Edward Said, Jeff Wall and Cornell West), news and conference reports. Radical Philosophy also organises regular conferences.”

Radical Philosophy’s website, which contains all its content from back issues (though most of it in bourgeois fashion is available only for sale or for subscribers), is at: http://www.radicalphilosophy.com
        Addendum: In May 2017, the editorial collective sent out a letter to “left” academics which more or less admitted that Radical Philosophy was in danger of “becoming part of an establishment”, and that therefore they intended to re-launch the magazine with a second series of issues. Moreover, they promised that as of January 2018 the back issues of the magazine will be available free on the Internet. It remains be seen if this new series of issues will be any more useful to the revolutionary movement than the academic drivel which characterized the old series in recent decades.

Radio, like virtually all means of communication in bourgeois society is totally dominated by capitalist ideology. In the period before television (let alone the Internet) the bourgeois ruling class quickly mastered the art of mass indoctrination via the radio. As one commentator remarked, the Mussolini fascist regime used the radio “with great skill”. And writer Iris Origo, writing about her upbringing in fascist Italy and the unceasing propaganda all around her, remembers one man saying, “The radio has made fools of us all.” [A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940 (2018).]

“In 1927 ... the US Congress passed a bill intended, as the media historian Mark Goodman argues, to guard against the possibility that radio could be used to stoke social upheaval or to ‘monopolize opinions’.” —Neima Jahromi, The Nation, Dec. 7, 2015, p. 31.
        [This curious event demonstrates the fear that the ruling class had and continues to have about the possibility of the working class escaping the ideological domination of the bourgeoisie. More recently their fear in this regard has centered on the Internet, rather than radio, and although they dominate the information and views on the Internet too, they are still uneasy about it. They seem to instinctively know—even better than the working class itself most of the time—that because of their tiny numbers, the rule of the richest capitalists, the “1%”, is historically precarious. —Ed.]

An anti-Communist broadcast propaganda agency of the United States government in Europe, secretly established and funded by the

A bomb or other device which, though it is neither an
atomic bomb nor a hydrogen bomb, disperses dangerous radioactive materials, and thus can seriously harm and potentially kill many people. Although such a weapon does not undergo nuclear fission or fusion, and therefore causes little if any physical destruction, it is much easier for a terrorist group to create and employ. The radiological weapons created by governments generally use radioactive isotopes with a very short half-life, which means that while the radiation will be severe at first most of it will be gone within days or weeks, and thus allow their own troops to soon occupy the target area with little danger. However, a terrorist version of a radiological weapon would likely prefer to use isotopes which contaminate the target area over a much longer period.

“In another historical parallel with the early American atomic-bomb program, Iraq in 1987 designed and tested a radiological weapon—a ‘dirty’ bomb. In 1943, shortly after the secret Manhattan Project bomb-design laboratory at Los Alamos, in northern New Mexico, opened its doors, concerned that Nazi Germany might be ahead in the race to build the atomic bomb, the Italian physicist and Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi had proposed to Los Alamos’s director, Robert Oppenheimer, that the pioneering nuclear reactor Fermi had recently started up at the University of Chicago might be used to make radioactive material to poison the German food supply. Responding to Fermi’s proposal, Oppenheimer had commented, ‘In this connection I think that we should not attempt a plan unless we can poison food sufficient to kill a half a million men, since there is no doubt that the actual number affected will, because of non-uniform distribution, be much smaller than this.’ As bomb development advanced, Fermi’s project lapsed, although U.S. experiments with radiological weapons continued after the war. [Note that this 1943 plan, rejected only because it did not promise to kill enough people, was another example of the routine genocidal thinking of all the imperialist powers during World War II. —Ed.]
         “Iraq developed its dirty bomb to use against Iranian troop concentrations and human wave attacks and to contaminate contested building complexes and territory. [This was during the long and vicious Iraq-Iran War of 1980-1988.] ... Zirconium, the metal selected for irradiation, with a half-life in its irradiated form of only 75.5 days, would lose most of its radioactivity in a matter of weeks, allowing Iraqi forces to secure contaminated areas after radiation levels declined.
         “But the 1987 Iraqi tests proved to be both incompetent and ineffective. The bombs tested ... ‘produced only minimal levels of radiation’... For the third and most successful test, the Iraqi Air Force dropped two bombs from a plane. They generated large radioactive clouds, but most of the radiation dispersed with the clouds. ‘The maximum level of radiation was only 3 millirem per hour at a distance of 10 meters from the point of impact’...” —Richard Rhodes, Twilight of the Bombs (2010), pp. 17-18.

A coalition of different political groups or forces from multiple nationalities, colors (“races”) and ethnic groups.
        This term was coined by the brilliant young Black Panther Party leader
Fred Hampton (who was assassinated by the Chicago police and FBI in December 1969). Hampton had been leading a successful effort to broker a nonaggresssion pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs, and at the same time attempting to unite all the forces possible into a class-conscious unified revolutionary movement, not only Blacks but also Latinos, whites, other working-class nationalities and radical students. In May 1969 Hampton called a press conference and announced that this truce had been declared among this “rainbow coalition”, which also looked forward to future unified action by them all. This turn of events especially alarmed the FBI and U.S. government, which stepped up the aspects of its secret COINTELPRO program designed to divide the Panthers from other radical groups, unfortunately with some success (such as the split the FBI fomented between the Panthers and SNCC).
        Later on the term “rainbow coalition” was adopted by Rev. Jesse Jackson and other reformists and distorted into a bourgeois movement in support of the Democratic Party. Since that time the somewhat discredited term “rainbow coalition” has been mostly used by reformists of one sort or another.

Islamic fundamentalists who collaborated with the Pakistani army during the independence war of Bangladesh in 1971.

RAND, Ayn   [Born: Alissa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia]   (1905-1982)
A quintessential bourgeois philosopher and novelist who actually sought to construct a philosophy (which she called “Objectivism”) based on the open glorification of capitalism and selfishness! Her best known novel on this reactionary theme was Atlas Shrugged (1957).
        See also:
Philosophical doggerel about her.


A private reactionary army of the landlord Bhumihar caste in the state of Bihar in India. Its primary purpose is to keep the peasant masses down through terrorist attacks and to attack and kill revolutionaries.

RAPE — Tacit Acceptance of by the Bourgeois Legal System
Although rape is nominally “illegal” in bourgeois society, for the most part it is not taken to be a serious problem which the legal system should try to put a real stop to. The basic proof of this assertion comes from the fact that women are generally not believed when they bring accusations of rape against someone. It is true, of course, that in extremely rare cases the woman bringing these charges may herself be lying. But everyone with any sense at all, and with any knowledge of American society at least, should know that in almost every case these accusations are genuine.
        But since the police, and this entire system, do not treat these accusations of rape as very likely to be genuine, and consider rape as “not all that serious” of a crime in any case, they carry out only the most perfunctory “investigations”. If a rape kit (physical evidence) is even prepared, it is most likely that it won’t actually be processed in a laboratory. And even if it is, it is unlikely that the accused rapist will be charged and found guilty—because rapists generally claim the sex was consensual. Again, it is the rapist who is usually believed by the bourgeois authorities, not the woman.
        In effect, rape is only rarely truly illegal in male-chauvinist capitalist society. There are a great many ways in which bourgeois society is tremendously harmful to the interests of women, but this is no doubt one of the most outrageous of them all.
        See also:
WOMEN—Sexual Crimes Against Under Capitalism

“The U.S. government estimates that police departments in the U.S. have warehoused more than 200,000 untested sexual assault kits, although some estimates are far higher. About 125,000 rapes are reported in the U.S. annually—with the alleged assailant going free 49 out of 50 times.” —Report from The Atlantic magazine, summarized in The Week news magazine, July 26, 2019, p. 16. [Note that this absurdly low conviction rate of only 1 out of 50 cases does not even take into account that probably a much larger number of rapes occur which women do not report—because of feelings of shame and because they know they are unlikely to be believed in any case. —Ed.]

RAPPORTEUR   [Pronounced: ra-por-TER]
The term more and more frequently used for an officially designated investigator assigned to look into the facts about some important matter for an organization, and then to make a report back about what was found out. For example, in the spring of 2011 the United Nations used a rapporteur to investigate and prepare a report about how most countries around the world are now restricting freedom of speech on the Internet.

The view that reason is the primary (or even sole) source of knowledge. In other words, the approach to the philosophy of knowledge which exaggerates the role of reason and underplays (or even entirely discounts) the role of sense perception, experience and investigation of the world. The opposite error is
empiricism, which exaggerates the role of sense perception and experience while downplaying (or even entirely discounting) the role of rationalization of that experience. The dialectical materialist theory of knowledge stakes out a middle ground between these two very one-sided approaches.
        [More to be added... ]

[To be added... ]
        See also:

        1.   [Capitalist:] Making production more efficient from the point of view of minimizing the amount of labor necessary, often through the introduction of more or better machinery; organizing the human labor that remains to produce the most commodities, even through the use of longer hours of work, speed-ups and unpleasant and unsafe working conditions; and, in general, doing everything possible to promote greater profits. For the capitalist, more “rational” production means more profitable production, regardless of what that might mean for the workers.
        2.   [General:] Making plans, thoughts and ideas more logical, coherent and sensible.
        3.   [Pejorative:] To falsely attribute one’s actions or views to reasonable or admirable motives, even though they were actually nothing of the kind.

“‘Rationalization’ is a new word for an old phenomenon. Capitalism has always tried, by improvements in technology, by more refined methods of exploitation, to reduce costs of production and so increase profits. But in the last few years this has occurred systematically and at a more rapid rate.” —Eugen Varga, The Decline of Capitalism (London: CPGB, 1928), p. 24.

Rationing means to distribute food or other goods in a fair and equal way when there are shortages. Of course no one likes the need for rationing, but during times of scarcity it is nevertheless something that plays a very positive social role.

“In Britain and North America during World War II ... every strata of society was required to make do with less, even the very rich. And in fact, though overall consumption in the U.K. dropped by 16 percent, caloric intake for the poor increased during the war, because the rations provided low-income people with more than they could otherwise afford.
        “There was plenty of cheating and black market profiteering, of course, but these programs enjoyed broad-based support because they were, at least in theory, fair.” —Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014), p. 115.

“First, let’s be sure what rationing is not. It is not starvation, long bread lines, shoddy goods. Rather, it is a community plan for dividing fairly the supplies we have among all who need them. Second, it is not ‘un-American.’ The earliest settlers of this country, facing scarcities of food and clothing, pooled their precious supplies and apportioned them out to everyone on an equal basis. It was an American idea then, and it is an American idea now, to share and share alike—to sacrifice, when necessary, but sacrifice together, when the country’s welfare demands it.” —“What is Rationing?”, a U.S. Office of Price Administration pamphlet from 1942. Quoted in Naomi Klein, op. cit., p. 116.

The notorious secret foreign intelligence agency of India that interferes with other countries, particularly in South Asia. Its operations in Nepal over the past few decades have been especially extensive. Many politicians in Nepal and other countries seem to be working for, or with, RAW, sometimes even those of nominally revolutionary parties.

RAWLS, John   (1921-2002)
A very influential American bourgeois philosopher in the last half of the 20th century who specialized in moral and political philosophy. He is basically a philosopher of bourgeois liberalism. He spent most of his teaching career at Harvard University, and is best known for what contemporary bourgeois philosophers consider to be his “magnum opus”, A Theory of Justice (1971).
        A Theory of Justice is, however, a confused and inconsistent work. Because there are many conflicting and fairly obscure threads in it, it is the sort of work that bourgeois philosophers love to discuss and “interpret”. One would think that a major work on moral philosophy (
ethics) and political philosophy would begin by clearly stating what the foundations of morality are. But Rawls does not do that; his obsession is with the higher level principles of moral and political philosophy which depend on the foundations of morality which he never coherently establishes. Thus it often goes unnoticed that Rawls is pretty much just a Kantian when it comes to the foundations of morality. This is brought out more clearly in another of his books, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (2000).

“As in all his writings, he [Rawls] gives pride of place in these lectures to questions about moral reasoning. He is concerned above all with the logic of morality, its presuppositions, its principles, and the basic legal and political institutions that flow from it. Rawls finds inspiration chiefly in the daunting writings of the great 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. He does discuss other thinkers. David Hume, with whom he begins, raised the question that Kant attempted to resolve: How can there be universal moral standards untainted by our passions and interests? Part of Kant’s answer is elaborated in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781): The very structure of reason, independent of our passions and interests, provides universal standards. Another part is found in ... his other works in which Kant develops the idea from a variety of angles that the universal moral standard takes the form of a law, the Categorical Imperative, which requires us to act according to a maxim that we could will to be a universal law. Rawls concludes with Hegel, who clarified, corrected, and supplemented Kant. But, as in Rawls’s other writings, Kant is the looming philosophical presence.
         “... [Rawls] turns to Kant in order to make sense of the moral life as it truly is. The implication is that the history of moral philosophy culminates in Kant and more or less comes to an end in the Kantian-inspired moral philosophy that Rawls’s own work exemplifies. What Rawls introduces as a circumscribed scholarly effort to understand Kant is actually a bold defense of the Kantian idea that the very essence of morality consists in reasoning correctly on the basis of universal moral laws.” —Peter Berkowitz, “John Rawls and the Liberal Faith”, in the bourgeois journal, the Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2002, pp. 61-62.

From the point of view of revolutionary Marxism, this so-called “bold defense” of universal moral laws is instead just another tiredsome repetition of Kantian doctrine that has long been seen through on our part as the idealist nonsense that it is! Since all of Rawls’s arguments in A Theory of Justice and his other writings are constructed on this Kantian basis, they are all essentially worthless from our point of view, and would still be so even if they weren’t so confused and obscure. All his endless discussions of the nature of “justice as fairness”, distributive justice (how goods should be fairly distributed in a society), and so forth are found to rest on idealist and bourgeois foundations. Rawls not only appeals to the quintessentially bourgeois “Social Contract” idea, but also affirms the “right” of individuals to own and control private property in the means of production as a basic principle of “liberty”, which is supposedly justified on the basis of human “moral capacities” and “self-respect”. Thus this supposed paragon of the defense of moral justice sees nothing at all wrong in the capitalist exploitation of the workers or the imperialist economic domination and exploitation of the world.
        Rawls’s conception of a “well-ordered society” is that of bourgeois liberalism (meaning “liberalism” in the contemporary social sense in the U.S., as opposed to conservatism and laissez-faire). Thus he favored the liberal’s notion of supposed social justice, the regulation of capitalism and the mere mitigation of some of its worst “excesses”. His whole career was devoted to giving a theoretical excuse for liberal capitalism.

Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index