1. [In traditional (non-Marxist) usage:] A person holding a subordinate position, such as a junior officer in the British army.
2. [In academic pseudo-Marxist or post-colonialist discussions; used as a noun or adjective:] A peasant or ordinary lower strata individual in a colonial or formerly colonial country. The most notable thing here is the apparently purposeful avoidance of any explicit class designation for the person or people referenced. This is the sort of grandiose and esoteric language that these academics use among themselves to lend more “gravitas” to their absurdly intellectualized musings and debates.
In the photo at the right, Jerry Dean Leonard appropriately ridicules these post-colonialist academics with a picture of some actual Chinese workers asking what ‘subaltern’ means! [From his book, Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak (Of Shenhe) (2013), p. 438.]
A term used in “subaltern studies”, or post-colonialist academic discourse, when talking about the experience and outlooks of supposedly ordinary people in countries which are, or once were, controlled by foreign imperialism. The goal seems to be to do so in an extremely obscure and overly-intellectualized way, and to minimize references to social classes and to at all costs ignore the need for social revolution and belittle efforts in that direction. The idea was apparently to give an intellectualized voice to the previously voiceless, but in a way which both condemned colonialism but also avoided any suggestion of the necessity of revolution.
[From the Russian word subbota, meaning “Saturday”.] Voluntary unpaid collective labor performed for the public good by communist-spirited workers on their own time (often Saturdays). Although “subbotnik” is the more common and more general term, sometimes similar events performed on Sundays were called “voskresniks”. The practice was initiated by Bolshevik railroad workers on the Moscow-Kazan Railway in April 1919. It was then popularized by the Communist Party, and the first nationwide subbotnik in Russia was held on May 1, 1920. Subbotniks were most commonly organized for cleaning public streets of refuse, maintaining parks and other public facilities, gathering recyclable materials, and performing numerous other public services.
Lenin was pleased and excited by the development of subbotniks, and regarded them as early seeds of a future communist society based on free voluntary labor rather than on wage labor which must necessarily continue to characterize production overall during most of the socialist transition period from capitalism to communism. In the picture at the left, Lenin is one of the subbotnik volunteers carrying away a heavy log during the Kremlin area clean-up on May Day, 1920.
Subbotniks continued during the Stalin period, and even during the revisionist state-capitalist period after Stalin’s death. (For example, “Lenin Subbotniks” were held annually around the time of the anniversary of Lenin’s death.) Unfortunately, subbotniks soon lost their voluntary character and became virtually obligatory for worker participation. This is another aspect of how Soviet society came to be governed by orders from the top, rather than through the ideological education of the masses, and the use of the democratic mass line method of leadership. But perhaps the tradition of subbotniks still did encourage some small degree of public-spiritedness, even during the revisionist period.
“The first communist subbotnik was held on April 12, 1919, by railwaymen
of the Sortirovochnaya marshalling yards of the Moscow-Kazan Railway. Subbotniks were soon
being held at many other enterprises in various cities. The experience of the first communist
subbotniks was summed up by V. I. Lenin in A Great Beginning (Heroism of the Workers in
the Rear. ‘Communist Subbotniks’) [LCW 29:409-34.]
“An all-Russia subbotnik was held on May 1, 1920, with over 425,000 people in Moscow alone participating, including V. I. Lenin, who, together with Kremlin army cadets, worked on clearing away rubble on the territory of the Kremlin.
“Lenin’s article ‘From the First Subbotnik on the Moscow-Kazan Railway to the All-Russia May Day Subbotnik’ was brought out on May 2, 1920, in a specially published handbill Per vomaisky Subbotnik, which was drawn up, set and printed during the May Day subbotnik by the staff of the newspapers Pravda, Izvestia, Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn, Bednota, the ROSTA Telegraph Agency, and by the workers at the printing-house of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.” —Note 42, LCW 31.
1. The mental activities just below the threshold of consciousness. Or, those active mental processes (i.e., the overall characterizations of brain processes) which, though not fully conscious at the time, could have been so, and which serve to influence further conscious ideas and processes. This is the everyday, innocuous conception of the subconscious.
2. [In Freudian and similar psychoanalytic theories:] A hypothesized borderland area between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind. According to Freud, the “psyche” has three layers—the unconscious, the subconscious, and the conscious. The unconscious is the underlying foundation of the psyche that ultimately determines the whole conscious life of the individual and of society as a whole. He viewed the subconscious as a frontier battle zone which is invaded by non-reformable unconscious desires, which are in turn “censored” by the individual’s so-called “super-ego” (or social conscience). There is little or no scientific evidence to support this precise theory, and it has largely fallen into disrepute even in bourgeois circles.
A junior or subordinate type of imperialism which cannot (at least yet) be considered to be full-fledged imperialism.
If the present-day capitalist-imperialist world is viewed, as it should be, as consisting of both imperialist countries and of countries which are dominated and exploited by those imperialist powers, then there is the possibility of intermediate cases which have some of the characteristics of both types of countries. What then should these intermediate cases be called? One option is “expansionist”, and this is the term which has long been used by revolutionaries in South Asia to refer to India and its attempted domination and exploitation of other countries in that region. But another option is to call borderline countries like India and Brazil “sub-imperialist”. However, care should be taken in using this term to make sure you are properly understood, since various writers have used the term sub-imperialist in other ways. (See the quotation below.)
“A few words about the term ‘sub-imperialism’. This term can be used in
various different senses, including:
“A) As a reference to countries such as Britain, France, Germany and Japan, in relation to the single U.S. superpower. However, this conception downplays the imperialist nature of countries other than the U.S., and therefore implicitly supports the erroneous idea that there really is just one imperialist country and not a world imperialist system.
“B) As a reference to countries which serve primarily as regional agents for the major imperialist powers (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Japan, etc.) and for the world imperialist system. South Africa [during the apartheid era especially] has frequently been referred to as ‘sub-imperialist’ in this sense, since it has often intervened in other countries in southern Africa on behalf of international imperialism and with their backing. And India and Brazil could also be considered ‘sub-imperialist’ in this sense.
“C) As a reference to a few countries (especially India and Brazil) whose ruling classes have serious imperialist ambitions themselves, are showing somewhat more political independence from the existing powerful imperialist countries, and are starting to take on some characteristics of a national bourgeoisie rather than as a mere comprador bourgeoisie as in the past, and whose countries are starting to export capital. This is the sense of the term ‘sub-imperialism’ that comes closest to meaning a form of junior or want-to-be imperialism. (And what a despicable goal that is!)
“In our view, sense A) is quite wrong and should be completely opposed. Sense C) makes the most logical sense. However, sometimes authors use the term ‘sub-imperialism’ in a rather ambiguous way, blending the B) and C) senses.
“Calling countries like India and Brazil ‘sub-imperialist’ today does seem quite reasonable. But if we do so we must be sure to keep in mind that this does not mean that they are now full-fledged imperialist countries, but merely that their ruling classes have dreams of becoming such, and are presently just beginning to show some limited independence from the established imperialist countries. Their abilities (and need) to export capital and demonstrate independent military strength are still fairly small.”
—N.B. Turner, et al., Is China an Imperialist Country? Considerations and Evidence (2014), chapter 9, p. 35. Online at: https://www.bannedthought.net/International/Red-Path/01/RP-8.5x11-IsChinaAnImperialistCountry-140320.pdf
1. The specific experience of an objective physical or social event as viewed, understood or interpreted by one individual in their own particular way.
2. Internal (mental) “experiences” which are directly accessable only to the person who undergoes or “has” the experience, and not to other people. Usually the word ‘experience’ refers to some interaction of a person with the objective or “external world”, and that is why it often seems appropriate to put scare quotes around the word “experience” when used in this second sense; it is not the sort of thing we usually call having an experience! However, people do have dreams, hallucinations, and other sorts of internal mental phenomena which seem to be at least analogous to having experience with the external world, and sometimes the individual person is unable to even tell the difference. For example, a drunkard with delirium tremens may really believe that he is feeling and seeing ants crawling on his body. Later he might reasonably say, “I hope I never have that experience again!”
While subjective experiences in this second sense are not real in one obvious way (there were not actually any ants crawling on the person), they were real enough to him at the time. And this means that there were in fact neurons firing in the person’s brain which formed the objective basis for the subjective “experience”. For another good example of this, where the neuronal basis has been partially discovered, see: OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE.
The extreme form of philosophical idealism which claims that everything, including material objects, exists only because they are collections of sensations or “ideas” in someone’s mind, or else in the mind of God. A prominent champion of this bizarre view was Bishop Berkeley.
See also: SENSATIONALISM
In a dialectical process, the negation or elimination of an element or aspect (of a dialectical contradiction) which is however preserved in a transformed or partial way in the resulting synthesis. In other words, a simultaneous cancelling and preservation of something. This term was frequently used by Hegel (as in his idealist philosophy about the historical movement of the “absolute idea”), and is occasionally used by Marxists speaking in Hegelian language (especially academics!).
In a multi-stage process (involving a series of sub-contradictions) each of the intermediate stages is sublated by a later or superior stage, which accounts for both the change in and the continuity of the process as a whole. One concrete example, in historical materialism, is the development of the exploitation contradiction in human history. The first stage in the overall development of this contradiction was slavery, which involved the sub-contradiction between slaves and slaveowners and the exploitation of the slaves by the slaveowners. This was eventually transformed (or “sublated”) into the stage of feudalism, which was characterized by the new sub-contradiction between serfs (or peasants) and feudal landlords, but with still the exploitation of the former by the latter. Feudalism in turn was later transformed or sublated into capitalism, where another new sub-contradiction arose, this time between the workers and the capitalists, but still with the same exploitation of one social class by another class. Note that the term “sublation” is by no means necessary in describing this overall process; in fact, if the goal is to clearly explain (rather than to intimidate with esoteric language), the ordinary word “transformation” seems far preferable here! Note also that the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism (and then communism) will not involve the further sublation (or transformation) of the overall exploitation contradiction, but rather its complete abolition. Society as a whole will be much more profoundly transformed, but economic exploitation itself will be eliminated and not just transformed.
See also: NEGATION OF THE NEGATION, IDEALISM—Origin Of [Engels quote]
A mortgage issued to someone with a fairly poor credit rating.
Why would a bank or other financial institution make such a loan which stands a high likelihood of default? First of all, they usually charge a higher interest rate and a larger up-front fee. However, one of the main reasons that sub-prime mortgages became so common in the first decade of the 21st century is that the issuers of the mortgage (the banks, etc.) found ways to “securitize” it, i.e. to repackage the mortgage with others and sell bonds based on them to other investors in a form where their stupidity was not obvious. (See Collateralized Debt Obligation.) Thus the bank issuing the mortgage would not suffer even if the mortgage did go into default; that would only harm the suckers who bought the “sliced-and-diced” securities. Ironically, many of the issuers of CDOs seem to have got caught up in the marketing hype they generated to sell these wonderful new investments, forgot just what they were up to, and often kept or invested in these securitized bad mortgages themselves! Thus they also got caught in this trap of their own making.
“I don’t think it poses any threat to the overall economy.” —U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, pooh-poohing the dangers in the developing subprime mortgage meltdown, quoted in a Bloomberg.com news report, July 26, 2007. [What became known as the “Great Recession” began that following December, and over the course of the next year or so a major financial crisis broke out! —S.H.]
See: GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES
“Despite all the talk about people moving back to big cities, more than 91 percent of population growth in the U.S. metropolitan areas between 2000 and 2010 occurred in suburbs rather than in city cores. Today, more than 60 percent of Americans live in suburbs, and non-whites constitute 27 percent of suburbs’ population.” —The Week, June 24, 2011, p. 20, reporting information from the New York Times.
“For more than half a century, Americans have fled the cities in their
millions, heading away from crime and poverty towards better schools and safer neighborhoods
in the suburbs. Now poverty is catching up with them. According to two new reports from the
Brookings Institution, over the past decade the number of poor people in the suburbs has
jumped by a whopping 37.4% to 13.7 million, compared with some 12.1 million people below the
poverty line in cities. Although poverty rates remain higher in the inner cities, the gap is
“Suburban areas largely escaped during earlier downturns, but not this time. Support groups say people are using safety-net programs, such as food stamps or unemployment insurance, who have never applied for them before. They are often making tough choices. ‘It’s mortgage or food,’ observes [one person]...
“The reports paint a grim picture. Poverty rates are expected to continue to increase. Non-profit organizations are having to do more with less staff and less funding. Almost a third of them have had to lay off staff because of lost grants, and one in five has had to reduce services. And with state and local governments lacking cash, more funding cuts are expected.” —The Economist, “Mortgage or Food”, Oct. 16, 2010, p. 39.
SUCCESSORS — Revolutionary
See: REVOLUTIONARY SUCCESSORS
SUCHTING, Wal (1931-1997)
An Australian Marxist-influenced philosopher who taught at the University of Sydney until his his retirement in 1990. His two major areas of interest were Marxism and the philosophy of science. He was more influenced by academic “Western Marxism”, and especially by Althusser, than by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist philosophy. Best known for his book Marx and Philosophy (1986) which in three short chapters discusses Marx and epistemology, Marx and materialism, and the meaning of “the dialectic”.
See: CHANGE—Sudden, QUALITATIVE LEAP
An economically extremely important canal in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. This canal was dug by the Egyptian people themselves from 1859 to 1869. However, the Suez Canal Company which managed it was under the control of the French and British imperialists, especially the latter. Even before the discovery of oil in the Middle East, and the eventual huge importance of oil in the world economy, this canal was very important in facilitating the imperialist plunder of India and other countries in Asia and Africa.
In July 1956 the Egyptian government nationalized the Suez Canal, which the British and French imperialists viewed as unacceptable. They first put pressure on Egypt to “internationalize” the canal. When that scheme failed, Britain and France, together with Israel, waged a war of aggression against Egypt and attempted to control the canal by military force. However, the United States imperialists, the hegemonic overlords of the region, and for reasons of their own inter-imperialist contention with Britain and France, refused to acquiesce in this British-French-Israeli invasion. In the face of Egyptian military resistance and U.S. opposition, Britain, France and Israel were forced to withdraw. The last batch of invaders were pushed out on December 22, 1956.
“SUGAR-COATED BULLETS” [Chinese: tang yi pao dan 糖衣炮弹 ]
Flattery, favors, bourgeois ideological influence of all sorts, and even perhaps things like bribes, from the still-existing bourgeoisie, which might corrupt Communists even after the revolution has successfully achieved political power. In other words the sorts of things which might lead to the weakening and corrosion of revolutionary firmness and determination during the class-struggle transition period to socialism, and during the further class-struggle socialist period itself all the way until its eventual transformation into communist society.
“With victory, the people will be grateful to us and the bourgeoisie will come forward to flatter us. It has been proved that the enemy cannot conquer us by force of arms. However, the flattery of the bourgeoisie may conquer the weak-willed in our ranks. There may be some Communists, who were not conquered by enemies with guns and were worthy of the name of heroes for standing up to these enemies, but who cannot withstand sugar-coated bullets; they will be defeated by surgar-coated bullets. We must guard against such a situation. To win country-wide victory is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li. Even if this step is worthy of pride, it is comparatively tiny; what will be more worthy of pride is yet to come.” —Mao, “Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” (March 5, 1949), SW4:374.
SUICIDE (In the U.S.)
“Suicides hit a record high in the U.S. last year. Nearly 50,000 people lost their lives to suicide in 2022, according to a provisional count by the National Center for Health Statistics, up 3 percent from a year earlier. Suicide rates dropped for children and young adults, but increased for women ages 25 and older and men 35 and older.” —Wall Street Journal report, as summarized in The Week, December 15, 2023, p. 16.
“The suicide rate in the United States has risen nearly 40 percent since 2000. This
increase is puzzling because suicide rates had been falling for decades at the end of the 20th Century.
In this paper, we review important facts about the changing rate of suicide. General trends miss the
story of important differences across groups – suicide rates rose substantially among middle aged
persons between 2005 and 2015 but have fallen since. Among young people, suicide rates began a rapid
rise after 2010 that has not abated. We review empirical evidence to assess potential causes for recent
changes in suicide rates. The economic hardship caused by the Great Recession played an important role
in rising suicide among prime-aged Americans. We illustrate that the increase in the prevalence of
depression among young people during the 2010s was so large it could explain nearly all the increase
in suicide mortality among those under 25. Bullying victimization of LGBTQ youth could also account for
part of the rise in suicide. The evidence that access to firearms or opioids are major drivers of recent
suicide trends is less clear. We end by summarizing evidence on the most promising policies to reduce
suicide mortality.” —Dave E. Marcotte & Benjamin Hansen, “The Re-Emerging Suicide Crisis in the U.S.:
Patterns, Causes and Solutions” (Synopsis), May 2023, NBER Working Paper 31242.
[The reports of general statistical trends here are useful, although it should be noted that this is a study posted on a bourgeois economists’ website, and from a reformist perspective of how to supposedly deal with this growing problem of suicide in American society. Although the authors note that economic hardship caused by the Great Recession played an important role in raising the suicide rate in that period, they do not even begin to understand how the now much more rapid disappearance of decent jobs and fulfilling work for young people relates to this problem; let alone all the many other ways in which the capitalist system itself is at fault. The most fundamental overall reason for high and rising suicide rates is the capitalist system in continually worsening socio-economic crisis. And there is nothing that can now resolve that fundamental problem except social revolution. —Ed.]
SUICIDE — Caused by Overwork
SUMMATION OF POLITICAL WORK
See also: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
SUN SPOT THEORY (Of Economic Crises)
A theory originated by the bourgeois economist William Stanley Jevons (1835-82) which claims that the periodic prominence of dark spots on the surface of the sun is responsible for economic cycles in the capitalist economies on earth. Though erroneous, this is not quite as ridiculous as it initally sounds! The sun goes through a 11-year cycle of varying numbers of sun spots, from almost none, to a great many, and back to almost none. These spots are actually plasma storms, and when they are abundant large quantities of charged particles are spewed off into space, some of which reach the earth and cause effects here, including the auroras and interruptions to radio communications. Moreover, the sun’s energy output varies during this 11-year cycle by about 0.1%, which causes the surface temperature of the ocean to fluctuate by a slightly larger amount. It is likely, therefore, that there are at least small changes to crop yields because of atmospheric and weather changes, and this was the basis for Jevons’ theory. (The astronomer William Hershel noted as early as 1801 that when sunspots were rare, the price of wheat in England increased.) However, such crop changes are probably fairly small, and this is only one small aspect of the overall economy. Moreover, neither the peaks nor valleys of the 11-year cycle of sun spots correlate with the varying periods of 5 to 10 years in the standard industrial cycle.
Clearly bourgeois economists come up with rather silly theories like this, which try to explain economic crises by “exogenous” factors (i.e., factors external to the capitalist system), because they simply cannot accept that capitalism itself has any internal flaw which leads to such crises, despite the fact that Marx long ago explained in detail how this occurs.
SUN Yat-sen (1866-1925)
Important early Chinese nationalist leader. [More to be added...]
See also: PREDECESSORS (Mao quote)
[From Bengali: Shundorbôn] A very large area of tidal mangrove forest in the Ganges River delta area of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India.
“The sun illuminates the earth at an astonishing rate of 170,000 TW
[terrawatts = trillion watts]. About thirty percent of that is reflected straight back
out. About nineteen percent is absorbed by the atmosphere, mostly by water vapor. Just
over half is absorbed by the surface. All the world’s plants and algae working together
manage to make use of about a third of one percent of that energy. The rest just serves
to heat things up; it warms the water of the oceans and surface of the land. There it
drives the winds and ocean currents, which flow with far greater power than plate
tectonics can muster. The rate at which heat moves up the North Atlantic is 700 TW,
almost three times all the world’s gross photosynthetic energy storage, let alone its
“Heat from the surface is lost to the atmosphere, mostly through infrared radiation and latent heat. [Latent heat is energy stored via physical changes of state, such as the evaporation of water. The heat is released when the water vapor condenses back into liquid form. —Ed.] The atmosphere, specifically the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, absorb this heat and radiate it back out, warming the surface. The warmth we feel from above comes from all the sky, not just the direct sunlight. The warmth of the nights is warmth the earth has lent to the sky and is getting returned.
“But the sky does not return all the heat to the surface. Some of the energy is radiated outwards, rather than inwards. As we have seen, it is eventually lost to space at almost exactly the same rate that incoming sunlight is absorbed. Almost, but not quite—and a slight imbalance in a torrential flow can matter a lot. Overall, the sun provides the earth with about 340 watts per square meter, about 240 watts of which are absorbed by the surface and the atmosphere. Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere allows it to absorb more of the outgoing heat from the earth’s surface, and then to radiate more of it back down to us. As a result the earth is now absorbing more energy than it is emitting. This effect is known, in climate science circles, as a ‘forcing’, and it, too, can be expressed in watts per square meter. The forcing due to the increase in carbon dioxide that has taken place ... is currently put at 1.66 watts per square meter.
“That sounds fairly innocuous: 1.66 watts per square meter is just a bit more than the energy it takes to light my living-room with an energy-saving light bulb. But that 1.66 watts applies to every square meter of of the earth.... All told, the increase in the greenhouse effect due to the build-up of carbon dioxide between the eighteenth century and today adds up to almost 850 TW.
“Add in the other human greenhouse gases, the enhanced methane from rice paddies and cattle and landfills, the nitrous oxide from fertilized farmland, and you get up over 1000 TW.”
—Oliver Morton, Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet (2008), pp. 356-7.
“Earth is now trapping nearly twice as much heat due to mounting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from carbon emissions than it did in 2005, according to a report by NASA and the U.S. agency NOAA. It describes the surge in warming as alarming, unprecedented and gaining in strength. About 90% of the excess heat is now being stored in the oceans, with the rest heating up the land, melting ice and snow, and warming the atmosphere, the report concluded.” —Steve Newman, “Earthweek: Diary of a Changing World”, for the week ending June 25, 2021; in the San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2021.
The largest branch of Islam, practiced by about 83% of Muslims around the world. Sunni Muslims believe that Abu Bakr, the father-in-law of Mohammed, was the first caliph (or successor) to Mohammed.
See also: SHIITE
See: FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS
Relating to the surface of something, or a secondary or minor aspect of it, rather than its essence. A superficial feature of a thing or situation is an aspect of it which can be altered or removed without changing its essential nature or resolving the primary contradiction involved. Also, shallowness.
However, it is also true that because of the web of interconnections of ideas and categories in our brains, a merely superficial aspect of a thing or situation can often suggest to us the deeper essence of what is involved or going on. The surface of something can provide a clue as to what lies beneath the surface. The blood on the surface of a wound can suggest the nature and seriousness of the damage within the body.
“The reason analogy is so extremely efficient is that appearances are
indeed great indicators of essences. This is why reliance on surfaces is not a poor
strategy in life. It’s just that in selecting which of a situation’s innumerable
surface-level features to rely on as clues, one has to do one’s best at separating the
wheat from the chaff. This is what the development of expertise does for us. Experts see
things that are hidden to novices. They perceive cues that novices either do not see at
all or else take for irrelevant, and these surface-level cues give them access to deep
perceptions. And thus surfaces become more and more imbued with depth.” —Douglas
Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of
Thinking (2013), p. 346.
[Compare Mao’s remark that: “It is by analyzing and studying the appearance of a thing that people come to know its essence.” (See the entry “APPEARANCE AND ESSENCE” for more of this quotation.) —Ed.]
Substantially larger profits acquired by capitalist companies, especially during the capitalist-imperialist era, over and beyond the prevailing rate of profit elsewhere.
There are many ways to gain increased profits. If a corporation relocates to a low-wage area, for example, such as a depressed region of the American Southeast, it is in a position to pay its workers less and then to both undersell its competition while at the same time achieving a greater profit. The same result can come from being the first company in some industry to adopt new labor-saving technology. Or to find a new way to speed up the assembly line or otherwise get more production out of each worker. All of these sorts of special advantages are continually sought by every capitalist enterprise. Another way to achieve increased profits, or even superprofits, is through monopoly power, or the collusion (including outright price fixing) by a few oligopolistic corporations in a given industry.
But in the capitalist-imperialist era, the leading way to achieve superprofits is to operate internationally, to acquire foreign raw materials at artificially low prices, and to shift production to low-wage countries, and especially neocolonial countries where the imperialist powers have local lackies (comprador regimes) who forcibly keep the workers unorganized, downtrodden and compliant. This is the situation in Ethiopia and Indonesia, for example. In China, it is a little different: the regime there is not a comprador one, but rather a bourgeois nationalist one which has been beating other imperialist countries at their own game by exploiting their own large population much more determinedly than the other imperialists can get away with at home. China compounds this crime by also allowing foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) the opportunity to join in the exploitation of the low-wage Chinese workers.
However, there are also additional ways to exploit people more intensively, and sometimes the term superprofits is reserved for the profits acquired in these special forms of exploitation. These include the extra profits made from women workers (because they are paid substantially less); from Black workers or other minorities (because the prevailing racist capitalist system allows them to also be paid less); from immigrants, especially illegal immigrants who fear being deported if they complain about their more intense exploitation; and so forth. In general the bourgeoisie has almost endless ways to more intensively exploit people, and in which to exploit some groups of people more than others. Superprofits come from the qualitatively greater exploitation of some groups of workers more so even than the other workers.
See also: COLONIALISM
A person or social event which is responsible for transmitting an infectious disease to a large number of additional people. This is a term which arose in the U.S. in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic because of the widespread failure of many ignorant and/or reactionary individuals to follow masking and social distancing guidelines that health experts strongly encouraged, but about which the ruling class government, politicians, and media gave mixed messages at best.
1. A belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. [Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (1993)]
2. Belief in the supernatural or other grossly irrational and scientifically unsupported notions.
3. A belief maintained despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
Although superstition takes on a great many and varied forms, by far the greatest amount of it in modern society is encompassed by religion and the belief in God or gods.
See also the various sub-entries under RELIGION and especially RELIGION—Versus Science and RELIGION—Utter Absurdity Of,   and GEOMANCY, MAGIC
See: STRING THEORY
See: BASE and SUPERSTRUCTURE
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
[To be added...]
The absurd bourgeois economic doctrine that the way to promote the expansion of a weakened capitalist economy (i.e., to promote the more rapid growth of GDP) is to implement policies which create a bigger supply of goods and services, rather than to find ways to increase the effective demand for them (as Keynesians try to do). Supply-side economics requires bourgeois economists to strongly reaffirm “Say’s Law”, which Keynes and some of his followers had finally partially rejected (though they had not completely rejected it, as Marx did long before them).
In a capitalist overproduction crisis the basic problem is that those who need and desire more goods and services do not have the money to buy them; in other words, there is a glut of commodities on the market which consumers are unable to buy even though they need and want them. (This is an inherent result of the capitalist system and the extraction of surplus value from the workers.) The supply-side theory is that the solution to the problem where supply greatly exceeds demand is to further increase supply! Which, of course, sounds absolutely daft!
However, while it is in fact basically daft, so-called supply-side economics is not at all completely open and honest about what it is actually doing. The way in which it is trying to increase production is through a whole series of more specific policies which strongly benefit capitalist corporations and raise their profits, while seriously hurting the working class more than ever. These include:
• Cutting corporate taxes (even further than they have already been cut). This is the policy most strongly emphasized.
• Deregulation of corporations by reducing the already very weak legal requirements that they protect their workers’ health and safety, protect the environment, etc.
• Privatization of previously nationalized companies or industries where they exist (which was a major thrust of the Thatcherite supply-side program in Britain).
• Neoliberalist policies, including those designed to weaken or destroy labor unions, and drive the costs of labor-power down. Included here is the promotion of what they euphemistically call “labor market flexibility”, meaning making it easier and cheaper to layoff workers, making it easier to hire only part-time or contract workers, and to cut worker’s benefits, retirement plans, etc.
• Promoting trade agreements beneficial to the country’s own multinational corporations, in order to both open up new markets overseas and to also increase opportunities for the export of capital.
• Various other policies beneficial to corporations, such as increasing government subsidies to them.
All capitalist governments promote the interests of the capitalist class and their corporations, but supply-side economics is a set of intensified policies toward this same end, which have become necessary for the ruling class in the period of growing economic crisis.
See also: LAFFER CURVE, REAGANOMICS
SUPREME COURT (U.S.)
See also: CORPORATION—As a ‘Person’
“Just 28% of voters believe that the Supreme Court acts in a ‘serious and constitutionally sound manner.’” —C-SPAN/PSB TV report, quoted in The Week, Sept. 14, 2018, p. 17. [The views of the American masses about all government institutions continues to drop as the economic and social problems in society continue to worsen. —Ed.]
The value produced by workers in the capitalist system of production which is over and above that which goes to pay their wages, and the costs of raw materials, overhead, and other expenses required to keep the production process going. Surplus value is expropriated by the capitalists and is the source of not only their own profits, but also sometimes of the profit of other capitalists, such as the retailers who market the products for the manufacturing company.
See also below, and: Value, Price and Profit
“The action of labor-power ... not only reproduces its own value, but produces value over and above it. This surplus-value is the difference between the value of the product and the value of the elements consumed in the formation of that product, in other words, of the means of production and the labour-power.” —Marx, Capital, vol. I, ch. VIII: (International, p. 208; Penguin, p. 317.) [Or, roughly equivalent, surplus value is the value of the commodities produced by the workers after deducting their wages, the cost of raw materials and the overhead. —Ed.]
“There is not one single atom of [surplus] value that does not owe its existence to unpaid labor.” —Marx, Capital, Vol. I, ch. 24, sect. 1. (Penguin ed., p. 728.)
[To lay bare the essential character of capitalist production:] “This was done by the discovery of surplus-value. It was shown that the appropriation of unpaid labor is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the exploitation of the worker that occurs under it; that even if the capitalist buys the labor-power of his laborer at its full value as a commodity on the market, he yet extracts more value from it than he paid for; and that in the ultimate analysis this surplus-value forms those sums of value from which are heaped up the constantly increasing masses of capital in the hands of the possessing classes. The genesis of capitalist production and the production of capital were both explained.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:27.
SURPLUS VALUE — Absolute and Relative
“The surplus-value produced by prolongation of the working day, I call absolute surplus-value. On the other hand, the surplus-value arising from the curtailment of the necessary labour-time, and from the corresponding alteration in the respective lengths of the two components of the working day, I call relative surplus-value.” —Marx, Capital, Vol. I, ch. 12. (International ed., ...; Penguin ed., p. 432.)
SURPRISE AND DECEPTION (In Tactics)
“All warfare is based on deception.” —Sun Tzu (c. 544-496 BCE), The Art
“A man surprised is half beaten.” —Thomas Fuller (1654-1734), Gnomologia.
“[Surprise lies] at the foundation of all undertakings”; and “surprise becomes the means to gain superiority” —Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), On War.
“To have misconceptions and to be caught unawares may mean to lose superiority and initiative. Hence, deliberately creating misconceptions for the enemy and then springing surprise attacks upon him are two ways—indeed two important means—of achieving superiority and seizing the initiative. What are misconceptions? ‘To see every bush and tree on Mount Pakung as an enemy soldier’ is an example of misconception. And ‘making a feint to the east but attacking in the west’ is a way of creating misconceptions among the enemy. When the mass support is sufficiently good to block the leakage of news, it is often possible by various ruses to succeed in leading the enemy into a morass of wrong judgements and actions so that he loses his superiority and the initiative. The saying, ‘There can never be too much deception in war’, means precisely this. What does ‘being caught unawares’ mean? It means being unprepared. Without preparedness, superiority is not real superiority and there can be no initiative either. Having grasped this point, a force that is inferior but prepared can often defeat a superior enemy by surprise attack. We say an enemy on the move is easy to attack precisely because he is then off guard, that is, unprepared. These two points—creating misconceptions among the enmy and springing suprise attacks on him—mean transferring the uncertainties of war to the enemy while securing the greatest possible certainty for ourselves and thereby gaining superiority, the initiative and victory.” —Mao, “On Protracted War” (May 1938), SW 2:165-166.
See also: U.S. GOVERNMENT SPYING (On its own Citizens), FISA COURTS, COMPUTERS—Security Of, SECURITY CAMERAS
[Speaking of the exposures of NSA spying programs
by Edward Snowden:] “Some of the surveillance was ostensibly devoted to terrorism suspects.
But great quantities of the programs manifestly had nothing to do with national security.
The documents left no doubt that the NSA was equally involved in economic espionage,
diplomatic spying, and suspicionless surveillance aimed at entire populations.
“Taken in its entirety, the Snowden archive led to an ultimately simple conclusion: the US government had built a system that has as its goal the complete elimination of electronic privacy worldwide. Far from hyperbole, that is the literal, explicitly stated aim of the surveillance state: to collect, store, monitor, and analyze all electronic communication by all people around the globe. The agency is devoted to one overarching mission: to prevent the slightest piece of electronic communication from evading its systemic grasp.
“This self-imposed mandate requires endlessly expanding the NSA’s reach. Every day, the NSA works to identify electronic communications that are not being collected and stored and then develops new technologies and methods to rectify the deficiency.” —Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (2014), pp. 94-95.
“Of course, dutiful, loyal supporters of the president and his policies,
good citizens who do nothing to attract negative attention from the powerful, have no reason
to fear the surveillance state. This is the case in every society: those who pose no challenge
are rarely targeted by oppressive measures, and from their perspective, they can then convince
themselves that oppression does not really exist. But the true measure of a society’s freedom
is how it treats its dissidents and other marginalized groups, not how it treats good
loyalists. Even in the world’s worst tyrannies, dutiful supporters are immunized from abuses
of state power. In Mubarak’s Egypt, it was those who took to the street to agitate for his
overthrow who were arrested, tortured, gunned down; Mubarak’s supporters and people who quietly
stayed at home were not. In the United States, it was NAACP leaders, Communists, and civil
rights and anti-war activists who were targeted with Hoover’s surveillance, not well-behaved
citizens who stayed mute about social injustice.
“We shouldn’t have to be faithful loyalists of the powerful to feel safe from state surveillance. Nor should the price of immunity be refraining from controversial or provocative dissent.” —Glenn Greenwald, ibid., p. 196.
“Reviewing documents from the American pacification of the Philippines after
1898, I made an unexpected discovery: to defeat a determined Filipino resistance, the United
States formed what was arguably the world’s first surveillance state. As described in my book
Policing America’s Empire, the commander of army intelligence at Manila circa 1900,
Captain Ralph Van Deman, later applied lessons learned from pacifying the Philippines to
establishing this country’s first internal security agency during World War I, making him ‘the
father of U.S. Military Intelligence.’
“After he retired at the rank of major general in 1929, Van Deman compiled a quarter million files on suspected subversives that he shared with the military, the FBI, and conservative Republicans—including Richard Nixon, who used this ‘intelligence’ to smear rivals in his California congressional campaigns. Van Deman also represented the army at a closed-door conference in 1940 that gave the FBI control over all US counterintelligence, launching J. Edgar Hoover’s thirty-year attempt to extirpate subversion, real and imagined, through pervasive surveillance and illegal agent provocateur operations involving blackmail, disinformation, and violence.” —Alfred W. McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (2017), p. 19.
See: SECURITY CAMERAS
SVERDLOV COMMUNIST UNIVERSITY
A higher educational institution originally set up in revolutionary Russia for the further political education and training of members of the Bolshevik Party.
“The Sverdlov Communist University was formed from courses for
agitators and instructors organized in 1918 under the All-Russia Central Executive Committee
and later converted into a school of Soviet work. After the decision of the Eighth Congress
of the R.C.P.(B.) on the organization of a higher school under the C.C. for training Party
cadres, the school was reorganized into the Central School for Soviet and Party Work; in the
second half of 1919, by decision of the Organizing Bureau of the C.C. of the R.C.P.(B.) it
changed its name to the Sverdlov Communist University.
“This was the first Party higher educational institution. Lenin showed great interest in the organization of the University and took part in working out its first syllabus and curriculum.
“On July 11 and August 29, 1919, Lenin delivered lectures on the state in the University. The text of the second lecture has not been preserved. On October 24 of the same year, Lenin made a speech to students of the Sverdlov University leaving for the front.” —Note 106, Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
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