Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

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A rightist mass movement in the United States in recent decades which is sponsored and funded by reactionary millionaires and billionaires and largely controlled by them. Many of the masses who identify with this movement, however, also have anti-corporate and anti-Wall Street attitudes, which accompany their generally racist and nationalist outlook which is more amenable to the ruling class. This is the strata which will likely form the initial basis for future fascist mass movements in the U.S., and which has already become a major force in the election of the proto-fascist Donald Trump as U.S. President.
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[Coined in 1965 as part of the rapidly developing U.S. student opposition to the American imperialist war in Vietnam, and soon expanded in support of the Black Liberation struggle, Women’s Liberation, and other major issues:] “An extended meeting usually held on a college campus for lectures, debates, and discussions to raise awareness of or express a position on a social or political issue.” [Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., 1993.]

“When, in 1834, the Lane Seminary students [in Cincinnati] gathered for what was perhaps America’s first teach-in—they kept at it for eighteen days and nights—they assembled in order to thrash out this question: ‘Was American Slavery Right or Wrong?’ And they decided unanimously that it was wrong; announced their decision; were expelled as seditious—and went on to help revolutionize 19th century U.S. society.” —Herbert Aptheker, Political Affairs, CPUSA, January 1966, pp. 50-51. [See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lane_Seminary for further information. —Ed.]


“America’s four highest earning hedge fund managers earned more last year than the combined salaries of all 157,800 kindergarten teachers in the country.” —Vox.com report, as repeated in The Week magazine, May 23, 2014, p. 14.

A militant peasant movement initiated in the Bengal region of British-controlled India in 1946 for the purpose of allowing share-cropping peasants to keep for themselves a larger share of the food they grew. This was near the end of a long period of
British imperialist caused famine, and at a time when it was the usual practice of landlords to take 50% of the crops. This Tebhaga Movement, led by the Kisan Sabha [Peasant Council] front of the Communist Party of India, sought to reduce the share taken by the landlords from one half to one third.
        The landlords, and the colonial government, of course used force to try to stop this movement, and the ensuing violence forced many landlords to flee from the villages, leaving areas of the countryside under the control of the Kisan Sabha. One of the leaders of this great peasant struggle was Charu Mazumdar, who much later led the great peasant uprising in Naxalbari, and went on to found the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).
        To try to regain control of the situation, the Muslim League ministry in charge of the province passed the Bargadar Act, which legally set the maximum portion of the harvest that the landlords could take at one third of the total. However, once things settled down, the law was not fully enforced. Nevertheless, the Tebhaga Movement gave the Bengali peasants a taste of their own potential power, and helped set the stage for the later revolutionary movement.

A term defined by fiat as part of creating and presenting a scientific theory. The term ‘mass’ in physics, for example, is defined as part of physical theory and though obvously related to the use of the term before and afterwards in ordinary language, it has the precise meaning within physics that the theory gives to it.
        All sciences require technical terms in order to be more precise and coherent, and to avoid needless ambiguity. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has a great many technical terms. Even such common words and phrases as the ‘
people’, ‘class’, ‘revolution’, ‘socialism’, and ‘communism’ are technical terms within MLM theory. And those coming to learn and correctly understand revolutionary Marxism must become familiar with what these technical words mean within this revolutionary theory. (It is part of the purpose of this dictionary to help facilitate this.)
        See also: DEFINITIONS

TASERS [Winkler quote]

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“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” —Richard Feynman, American physicist, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 15, 2006.

The religious or
idealist philosophical view which holds that design, purpose and goals, analogous to those which exist in many human actions and activities (and those of other higher animals), can also be found in the world in general. Thus the idea that the sun exists in order to warm the earth is an example of a teleological view, as is the idea that the world was created for human beings (by some god). Of course the sun does warm the earth, but no force created the sun for that purpose. And, the earth is in general quite well suited for the existence of human beings and other animals, but this is because we have evolved to live under these conditions (such as this amount of gravitation force, this range of temperatures, etc.).
        [More to be added...]

A law adopted by the English Parliament in 1847 which restricted the working day for women and children to 10 hours.

TEN PRINCIPLES OF OPERATION [Of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army]
PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY—Ten Principles of Operation

TENDENCIES (As Scientific Laws)
SCIENTIFIC LAWS—As Mere Tendencies

A flowering tree in India and Sri Lanka, Diospyros melanoxylon, popularly known as the Coromandel Ebony or East Indian Ebony. It has hard and dry wood. In addition, its leaves are used to wrap tobacco cigarettes called bidis. Tendu is called “kendu” in the Indian states of Orissa and Jharkhand. Tendu workers have often played a militant role in labor and social struggles in South Asia.

The ever more common, and ever larger, areas of
homeless people within American cities, many of whom are now living in tents, because they can no longer afford decent housing. This is one of the many consequences of the rapidly growing capitalist socio-economic crisis in the United States.

“An estimated 120 ‘tent cities’ of homeless people have sprung up in parks, green spaces, and underpasses in Washington, D.C., some just blocks from the White House and Capitol. Officials have elected not to clear them. ‘I’m just in shock,’ said an Atlanta tourist. ‘There are tents everywhere here.’” —New York Post report, summarized in The Week, October 28, 2022, p. 16.


“Abuse of terms is a most common practice in politics. The name ‘socialist’, for example, has often been appropriated by supporters of English bourgeois liberalism (‘We are all socialists now,’ said [William] Harcourt [leader of the Liberal Party]), by supporters of Bismarck, and by friends of Pope Leo XIII. The term ‘revolution’ also fully lends itself to abuse, and, at a certain stage in the development of the movement, such abuse is inevitable. When Mr. Struve began to speak in the name of revolution we could not but recall Thiers. A few days before the February revolution [in France in 1871] this monstrous gnome, this most perfect embodiment of the bourgeoisie’s political venality sensed that a storm was brewing among the people, and announced from the parliamentary tribune that he was of the party of revolution! (See Marx’s The Civil War in France.) The political significance of Osvobozhdeniye’s joining the party of revolution is exactly the same as Thiers’s. When the Russian Thiers begin to speak of their belonging to the party of revolution, that means that the slogan of revolution has become inadequate, is meaningless, and defines no tasks since the revolution has become a fact, and the most diverse elements are going over to its side.” —Lenin, Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, LCW 9:127-8.


The use of terror as a means of coercion. Terror, in turn, is the use of violence in order to force your opponents to accede to your demands, and the extreme fear that this violence then creates in those opponents.
        The imperialists and bourgeois ruling classes rarely openly admit to using terror or terrorism against either other countries or their own populations. But of course military and police attacks certainly do instill great terror. If bombing and the use of weapons like napalm is not terrorism, then the word has no meaning whatsoever. By far the greatest terrorists in the capitalist world are the capitalist-imperialists themselves and their police and armed forces. They easily account for 99% of all the terrorism in the world today.

TERRORISM — By the Revolutionary Proletariat
No class has ever achieved revolutionary power without instilling a sense of terror in the minds of the previous ruling class and their hired military and police agents. There is no reason to think that this can ever be any different in a proletarian revolution.
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Felix DZERZHINSKY [Quoted]

“And the victorious party [in a revolution] must maintain its rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries. Would the Paris Commune have lasted more than a day if it had not used the authority of the armed people against the bourgeoisie? Cannot we, on the contrary, blame it for having made too little use of that authority?” —Engels, as quoted in Lenin, “Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (Oct.-Nov. 1918), LCW 28:251. (The original source is: Engels, “On Authority” (1872), online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm)

“Their [the bourgeoisie’s] servants accuse us of resorting to terror.... The British bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1649, the French bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1793. Terror was just and legitimate when the bourgeoisie resorted to it for their own benefit against feudalism. Terror became monstrous and criminal when the workers and poor peasants dared to use it against the bourgeoisie! Terror was just and legitimate when used for the purpose of substituting one exploiting minority for another exploiting minority. Terror became monstrous and criminal when it began to be used for the purpose overthrowing every exploiting minority, to be used in the interests of the vast actual majority, in the interests of the proletariat and semi-proletariat, the working class and the poor peasants!” —Lenin, “Letter to American Workers” (Aug. 20, 1918), LCW 28:71.

“OK yes, I believe that a revolution is impossible without terror, precisely because the right will resort to terror to stop it. That brings up another aspect of revolution, which is this: to succeed a revolution must go all the way. No stopping midstream. The right will always use terror to foil it, so the revolution must use terror to stop it.” —Jean-Paul Sartre, interviewed by John Gerassi, quoted in Joseph Walsh, “Sartre: Conversations with a ‘Bourgeois Revolutionary’”, Monthly Review, June 2010, p. 61.

“TERRORIST LISTS” (Issued by the U.S. Government)
Today the greatest force by far which implements terror on the people of the world is the United States government. As of mid-2017 it is openly carrying out wars and military attacks in at least 7 countries, including Afghanistan where it has been at war for more than 16 years. As part of these wars it uses remotely controlled drones to rain down rockets and bombs on many civilians. Despite these constant terrorist outrages on their own part, the U.S. imperialists say that only their enemies are terrorists and keep lists of people, organizations and countries which they claim are terrorists. These more or less arbitrary lists are issued by agencies of the Executive branch of the U.S. government, and there is no procedure for disputing or challenging these claims, even in U.S. courts! Among the many definitely non-terrorist individuals who have been placed on such lists was Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader in South Africa. In 2010 the Obama Administration went so far as to charge the Humanitarian Law Project with aiding and supporting terrorists (and thus in effect being terrorists themselves!) because they gave advice to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party to use only legal and peaceful methods in their struggle for Kurdish civil rights in Turkey!

“The record of the terrorist list is of some interest. One of the ugliest examples of the use of the terrorist list has to do with the tortured people of Somalia. Immediately after 9/11, the United States closed down the Somali charitable network Al-Barakaat on grounds that it was financing terror. This achievement was hailed as one of the great successes of the ‘war on terror.’ In contrast, Washington’s withdrawal of the charges as without merit a year later aroused little notice.
        “Al-Barakaat was reponsible for about half the $500 million in remittances sent back to Somalia annually, ‘more than [Somalia] earns from any other economic sector and 10 times the amount of foreign aid it receives,’ a UN review determined. The charity also ran major businesses in Somalia, all of which were destroyed [by the U.S.]. The leading academic scholar of Bush’s ‘financial war on terror,’ Ibrahim Warde, concludes that apart from devastating the economy, this frivolous attack on a very fragile society ‘may have played a role in the rise ... of Islamic fundamentalists,’ another familiar consequence of the ‘war on terror.’” —Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World? (2016), pp. 96-97.

A political or religious organization organized for the purpose of systematically engaging in terrorism. While all classes are willing to use terror as a part of their program and “when necessary”, what we term a terrorist organization is a group which is organized explicitly for this primary purpose; i.e., with terrorism as its basic strategy.

“For it is precisely the Svoboda group that, by including terror in its programme, calls for an organization of terrorists, and such an organization would indeed prevent our troops from establishing closer contacts with the masses...” —Lenin, What Is To Be Done? (1902), (NY: International, 1969), p. 169.
         [Lenin here puts his finger on the most basic flaw of a revolutionary strategy of terrorism: Only the broad masses can actually make a revolution, but a strategy of terrorism forces a group to cut off most or all ties from the masses. This is why a strategy of terrorism is clearly one which is characteristic of the radicalized petty-bourgeoisie, and not the revolutionary proletariat. —S.H.]

[C. J. Polychroniou:] “Islamic fundamentalist terrorism of the kind promoted by ISIS has been condemned by organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. What differentiates ISIS from other so-called terrorist organizations, and what does ISIS really want?”
         [Noam Chomsky:] “We have to be careful about what we call ‘terrorist organizations.’ Anti-Nazi partisans used terror. So did George Washington’s army, so much so that a large part of the population fled in fear of his terror—not to speak of the Indigenous community, for whom he was ‘the town destroyer.’ It’s hard to find a national liberation movement that hasn’t used terror. Hezbollah and Hamas were formed in response to Israeli occupation and aggression. But whatever criteria we use, ISIS is quite different. It is seeking to carve out territory that it will rule and establish an Islamic caliphate. That’s quite different from others.”
         [From: Noam Chomsky, Optimism Over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change (2017), p. 21.]

A characteristic of an idea or theory which means that it is possible to test it in some way and therefore that the notion is not merely a flight of fancy about which there is no possible means of determining whether or not it is true. Testability is (or should be!) an essential aspect of the
scientific method.

“Science must be testable in principle, but that is not necessarily the same thing as testable in practice, given current technological limitations.... It is not uncommon for decades to go by before theories in physics are confirmed. In some cases, such as the atomic theory, it has taken centuries.” —Tom Siegfried, “A Great Unraveling,” New York Times Book Review, Sept. 17, 2006.
         [Although this comment is quite correct, it is also true that there is a very dubious tendency in modern speculative theoretical physics to pay little heed to the requirement that theories be testable, and to spend less and less time trying to think about how to test the new theories that are being cooked up (such as string theory). This is in fact tending to make physics “less scientific” in its actual practice and more like fantasy or religion. —S.H.]

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