UNICORN [Contemporary Capitalist Finance]
An apparently quite successful or at least promising new company, especially in a high-tech industry, which is well along in first getting established (i.e., which is deemed “late stage” in its creation), and which has yet to “go public” (sell stock to the public in its Initial Public Offering). Such companies are carefully monitored by Wall Street bankers and speculators because there might very well be huge fortunes to be made, especially by insiders, when they do issue public stock. The recent frenzy about “unicorns” in the financial press shows once again how wild financial speculation has become in U.S. business circles.
“China’s tech startups, which once lagged those from Silicon Valley, are catching up. Of the 41 private companies worldwide that reached ‘unicorn’ status in 2017—meaning they were valued at $1 billion or more—15 were Chinese and 17 were American.” —The Week magazine, Jan. 12, 2018, p. 29.
UNIFIED COMBATANT COMMAND [U.S. Military]
The vast U.S. imperialist military forces have divided the whole world into six regions, with separate military command operations for each. These are the six area Unified Combatant Commands. (There are, in addition, four more “functional” UCCs in charge of special military functions, such as strategic bombers and ICBMs.). The six area commands are:
NORTHCOM — U.S. North Command: North America, including Mexico & Cuba.
SOUTHCOM — U.S. South Command: All of Latin America except for Mexico & Cuba.
EUCOM — U.S. European Command, including Turkey.
CENTCOM — U.S. Central Command: The Middle East, including Egypt and Central Asia.
AFRICOM — U.S. Africa Command: All of Africa except Egypt.
PACOM — U.S. Pacific Command.
UNIFIED FIELD THEORY
A proposed unified theory of gravity and the other forces of nature which Albert Einstein worked on unsuccessfully during the last years of his life. But something similar to it is still being worked on by particle physics theorists under the new name of the “THEORY OF EVERYTHING”.
The continuation of the revolutionary process into another stage after the completion of an earlier stage. This term is especially common in reference to proceeding with a socialist revolution after the success of a democratic revolution (as occurred in Russia following the February Revolution and leading up to the October Revolution) or similarly after the success of a New Democratic revolution (as occurred in China after the revolutionary seizure of power in 1949 and leading up to the transformation of both the industrial and agricultural economies into socialism by the end of the 1950s). However, the term uninterrupted revolution can also refer to a continuing series of revolutionary struggles within a particular revolutionary process, such as the continuing stages in the development of rural collectivization in Maoist China from early forms of cooperatives, to advanced cooperatives, and eventually all the way to the People’s Communes.
See also: PERMANENT REVOLUTION
“The domestic situation is the issue of the relationship with the 500 million peasants. The peasants are our allies. If they are not rallied, there will be no politics; if no attention is given to their problems, mistakes will occur. With them as our allies, we will win. Lenin also stressed the workers’ and peasants’ democratic dictatorship — arousing the consciousness of the rural semi-proletariat to take part in uninterrupted revolution. Some people felt that, since it took 80 years to develop capitalism, socialism could only be introduced when the workers became more numerous and the peasants conscious of themselves. But practice proved that it did not require several decades to advance from democratic revolution to socialism. The Soviet Union’s February Revolution proved Lenin was correct.” —Mao, “Speech at the Conference of Heads Of Delegations to the Second Session of the 8th Party Congress” (May 18, 1958), SW 8, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_11.htm
“Uninterrupted revolution. Our revolutions come one after another. Starting from the seizure of power in the whole country in 1949, there followed in quick succession the anti-feudal land reform, the agricultural co-operativization, and the socialist reconstruction of private industries, commerce and handicrafts. The three great socialist reforms — i.e. the socialist revolution in the ownership of means of production — were basically completed in 1956 and there came the socialist revolution on the ideological and political front last year. This revolution may draw to the end of one stage by 1 July this year, but the problems [involved] are not yet solved. For a considerable period of time to come they will continue to be solved by annual bloom-contend-rectify-reform campaigns. [But] now we must start a technological revolution so that we may overtake Britain in fifteen or more years. Chinese economy is backward and China is materially weak. This is why we have been unable to take much initiative; we are spiritually restricted. We are not yet liberated in this sense. We must make a spurt [forward in production]. We may have more initiative in five years, and more still in ten. After fifteen years, when our foodstuffs and iron and steel become plentiful, we shall take a much greater initiative. Our revolutions are like battles. After a victory, we must at once put forward a new task. In this way, cadres and the masses will forever be filled with revolutionary fervour, instead of conceit. Indeed, they will have no time for conceit, even if they like to feel conceited. With new tasks on their shoulders, they are totally preoccupied with the problems for their fulfilment.” —Mao, “Sixty Points On Working Methods – A Draft Resolution From The Office Of The Centre Of The CPC” (February 2, 1958), SW 8, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_05.htm
“22. Theory of Uninterrupted Revolution and Theory of Revolution by Stages
“The development of cooperatives requires that progress be made in wave-like fashion — one wave succeeding another with a trough in between, like a valley between two peaks.
“The leadership should trim the sails according to the wind and adapt to the circumstances. And when conditions are unfavorable, they should immediately apply the brakes. At an opportune moment they should compress the people’s heads, which is a necessary thing to do when heads swell.... We have need of the necessary rest, the necessary pauses, the necessary braking or closing of the gate. The method to be tried when people start wagging their tails in the air is to set forth new tasks for them, like the quality emulation drive we are now putting forward, so that they won’t have time to feel haughty.” —Mao, “Examples Of Dialectics” (Abstracted Compilation, 1959), example 22, SW 8, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_48.htm">
UNION OF IRANIAN COMMUNISTS (SARBEDARAN)
An Iranian Maoist organization formed in 1976, which organized uprisings and guerrilla warfare in Iran, but suffered some serious defeats and setbacks especially during the 1980s. A large part of their membership and leadership was killed in battle or executed by the reactionary Iranian government. After those disasters it struggled to rebuild its organization and the revolutionary movement in Iran. In 2001 the UIC(S) became the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
It is unclear how much influence Sarbedaran had within Iran itself, though it was quite influential in Iranian student groups abroad, including the United States. The UIC(S) always viewed Iran as a semicolonial, semifeudal country, rather than as a fully capitalist country. It also always recognized the absolute need for, and strongly supported, revolutionary violence to overthrow the oppressive regime in Iran, and opposed the revisionists of the Tudeh Party. However, there were some substantial struggles over political line and strategy within the organization which were greatly amplified by their military defeats and government suppression efforts.
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Sarbedaran expanded its work in Iran and tried to prepare for uprisings and guerrilla warfare, while also participating in some working class and peasant struggles. And around 1981 it began some limited actual guerrilla warfare in the Kurdish areas of Iran. On January 25, 1982 the UIC(S) launched an armed uprising against the Islamic Republic in the vicinity of Amol (near the Caspian Sea). This failed and many members and leaders were captured and shot.
The UIC(S) was then in disarray for a fairly long period. However in the spring of 1983 it held its 4th Conference and in the spring of 1984 it participated in the founding of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). Throughout this period some Sarbedaran members and cadre were still being arrested and murdered by the government. In 1985 they tried anew to organize a militant struggle against the Islamic Republic, but it once again failed. A long summation by the UIC(S) of some of these very negative experiences, entitled “Defeated Armies Learn Well”, was published in the RIM magazine, A World to Win, in late 1985. [See: https://www.bannedthought.net/International/RIM/AWTW/1985-4/AWTW-04-Iran-DefeatedArmies.pdf (PDF: 22 pages, 4,329 KB).]
The Wikipedia (from which some of the information in this entry is taken) says that in the late 1980s the UIC(S) dropped some of their old slogans and strategies such as “Peoples’ war in rural areas and uprising in cities”, and instead put forward a new strategy with the slogan “Protracted People’s War: Siege the Cities via Villages”. It is unknown to us how successful the revised strategy has been so far.
On May 1, 2001, the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) was formed as the continuation of Sarbedaran.
UNION OF RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS ABROAD
“The Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad was founded in 1894 in Geneva, on the initiative of the Emancipation of Labor group. The latter was at first the leader in it and edited its publications; but afterwards the opportunist elements—the Economist ‘younger group’—secured the upper hand. At the Union’s First Congress in November 1898 the Emancipation of Labor Group refused to edit the Union publications; and at the Second Congress, in April 1900, it broke with the Union finally, withdrawing with its supporters from the Congress to establish an independent organization called Sotsial-Demokrat.” —Note 5, LCW 7.
UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS (USSR, or SOVIET UNION)
See: SOVIET UNION, and sub-topics there, and also: COUNCIL FOR MUTUAL ECONOMIC AID
UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS — Economic Collapse Of
See: SOVIET UNION—Collapse Of, SOVIET UNION—Collapse Of [Bourgeois Views]
See: LABOR UNIONS
UNIT LABOR COSTS
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines unit labor costs as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity. Increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs and increases in output per hour (productivity) tend to reduce them.
UNITE, DON’T SPLIT
This is a slogan and principle strongly and continually championed by Mao Zedong, though all too often misunderstood or ignored by those who claim to be his followers.
For many people ‘unity’ seems to mean absolutely complete ideological agreement, and an absolute identity of conceptions about social theory, political line, strategy, tactics, policies and tasks to be done and precisely how to do them. And of course if people completely agree about everything then there will almost automatically be complete unity between them. But Mao was a dialectician, who recognized very well that people do not always agree about everything (nor should they!), even when they are in the same party and hopefully have some very considerable general political agreement. The issue then is whether or not there can be a solid organizational unity even when there is not complete unity about all ideas and issues, and about every detail about what should be done. The answer is yes, there can and must be such organizational unity if a revolution is to be successfully carried out.
The means by which organizational unity can be assured even when there is not an absolutely complete unity of ideas is known as democratic centralism. Individuals who have not come to understand that for the good of the revolution their own ideas have to sometimes be democratically subbordinated to those of others have not grasped the point of democratic centralism at all. Neither have those who imagine that democratic centralism requires everyone to totally change their own ideas and completely agree with the organization about every single thing. Party members must continue to think; they have a right and duty to continue to hold to their beliefs and champion them at the appropriate times; but they also have the absolute obligation to put into practice to the very best of their ability the line and policies that the party has decided on through its democratic centralist procedures. They have the democratic-centralist obligation to unite, and not split.
“It is very bad to whisper behind people’s backs and not to speak out to their faces. We should have general agreement — at least in principle. We should be able to speak either more sharply or more tactfully, but we must speak out. Sometimes we must be sharp and clear-cut. But in any case, if we take our desire for unity as our starting-point and adopt a helpful attitude, then sharp criticism cannot split the Party, it can only unite the Party. It is very dangerous to leave unsaid things which you want to say.” —Mao, “Talks At The Chengtu Conference", Talk of March 22, 1958, SW6 [published in India], online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_06.htm
“I hope that you will practice Marxism and not revisionism; that you will unite and not split; that you will be sincere and open and not resort to plotting and conspiracy.” —Mao, “Talks With Responsible Comrades at Various Places During Provincial Tour”, from the middle of August to 12 September 1971, SW9:441. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-9/mswv9_88.htm
1. Either a formal or informal agreement of different political forces (possibly even from different social classes) to work cooperatively with regard to one or a few issues on which they agree, despite their many disagreements on other issues.
2. A government created on the basis of such an agreement, even if unstable over the long term, and probably short-lived. [More to be added.]
See also: ALLIANCES—Temporary
“I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.” —Frederick Douglass, in his lecture “The Anti-Slavery Movement”, 1855.
[To be added.]
UNITED STATES — As World Policeman
See also: UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Perpetual Wars Of
“[Capitalist-imperialism], even more so than capitalism in general,
requires a strong military force to maintain it. The world imperialist system is also
maintained by imperialist invasions and wars, when ‘necessary’. There are nearly
always one or more such imperialist wars in progress.
“However, in contrast to the successes in setting up international economic organizations [such as the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization] to regulate the world imperialist system, there have been much greater difficulties in trying to establish a fully functional international military force to keep the world imperialist system together. The contradictions between imperialist powers have prevented the U.N. from assuming that role, and U.N. ‘peace keeping’ forces can only be used where all the Security Council members are in full agreement. NATO and similar military alliances also do not represent all the current imperialist powers, and there are contradictions within even NATO which prevents its employment in some cases. This inability to create a central military force to control the world imperialist system is further reason to conclude that this system is not at all the same as ‘ultra-imperialism’ of the sort Kautsky envisioned.
“Thus since World War II the primary ‘world policeman’ in the Western imperialist bloc, and now in the world imperialist system, has been the United States. This is, in a way, an adaptation in the new neocolonial circumstances, of the requirement in the colonial era in which each imperialist power had to maintain political and military control of its own colonies by means of its own military establishment.”
—N. B. Turner, et al., Is China an Imperialist Country? — Considerations and Evidence (2015), summary theses numbers 6-8, p. 145. Online at https://www.bannedthought.net/International/Red-Path/01/RP-8.5x11-IsChinaAnImperialistCountry-140320.pdf and elsewhere.
“The American military’s special forces were used in more than 90 countries last year.” —New York Times, January 30, 2020.
UNITED STATES — Constitution
See: CONSTITUTION—United States
UNITED STATES — Decline Of
See: AMERICA IN DECLINE
UNITED STATES DOLLAR
UNITED STATES ECONOMY — During World War II
In the entry below, on the Productive Power of the U.S. capitalist economy, it is pointed out that this power is potentially so great that vastly more could in fact be produced even at the present time, if the organization of that production were changed and the profit motive no longer ruled. But how can we be sure that this is really true? Well, for one thing, because the experiment has already been carried out during World War II. No, the U.S. did not switch over to “socialism” during that war! But it did at least organize production much more centrally and rationally (in light of its overriding focus at the time on winning the war), and it ignored the normal severe limits on production resulting from capitalist profits coming only from effective market demand based on workers’ very limited wages. Instead, during World War II, the government went ever deeper into debt and used this massive debt to fund war production and simultaneously hand out enormous profits to corporations. The only way to even begin to expand production under capitalism anywhere near to its full possibilities is through vast expansions of government debt. But a genuine socialist revolution could take over that existing productive capacity and actually put it to full and effective use without any need for capitalist profits at all (and thus without any need for vast and ever-expanding government debt to pay for such profits).
“World War II was an emergency that demanded a complete economic mobilization.
In response to the war, the US government put forward a system of comprehensive economic
planning unlike anything seen before or since. The government requisitioned critical materials,
imposed wage and price controls, and underwrote the creation of war production factories and
the purchase of a vast quantity of weapons. There were no civilian automobiles produced
between February 1942 and October 1945 because auto plants were converted to the production
of tanks, jeeps, aircraft, and artillery. The government soon built or financed two thirds of
the war production factories in America, though most were operated by corporate contractors.
By 1944, this war machine was turning out 96,000 planes a year. Henry Kaiser’s shipyards cut
the production time of a Liberty Ship from 365 to 39 days by 1943, and by war’s end, to 14.
The Office of Research and Development invested in new technologies, many of which proved to
have extensive commercial applications.
“The war was a prodigious if unintended Keynesian stimulus to the economy. Despite the association of the New Deal with deficit spending, FDR’s peacetime deficits never exceeded 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and usually ran at about 3 or 4 percent. In 1939 the unemployment rate was still in the double digits. After the government placed war production orders worth $100 billion during the first six months of 1942—more than the output of the entire economy a decade earlier—unemployment quickly melted to just 3 percent. Over the duration of the war, the economy’s productivity doubled; 17 million civilian jobs were created; real GNP grew by 48 percent.
“Some of this astonishing rebound took up the slack of an economy that was still suffering the effects of the Great Depression as late as 1940. But the wartime growth went well beyond a belated recovery.”
—Robert Kuttner, “Bringing the Supply Chain Back Home”, The New York Review of Books, Nov. 18, 2021, p. 8. [Kuttner is a liberal Keynesian bourgeois economist, who goes on to erroneously argue that capitalism’s current problems can be resolved in a similar way. But his picture of the vast increase in U.S. production that occurred in World War II is correct. What he doesn’t understand is that this sort of massive expansion of production cannot continue indefinitely under capitalism, because the debt bubbles produced eventually pop in the form of financial and unresolvable economic crises. In particular, Kuttner fails to understand that the post-World War II boom was only possible because of the massive destruction of excess capital that occurred throughout the capitalist world during the War, thus clearing the ground for a new boom. —Ed.]
UNITED STATES ECONOMY — Productive Power Of
Capitalism, as Marx explained, is a socioeconomic system with vast potential for massive production, and also for very rapid further expansion of the means of that production (i.e. factories and machinery). The problem is that it also contains a fundamental internal contradiction (between the social character of production and the private appropriation of the goods produced) which inevitably leads to economic crises which interrupt, drastically slow down or even completely stop or reverse that growth of production. And all of this is particularly true of the economies of the largest and most developed capitalist countries, such as the United States.
If the complete potential productive power of even the present U.S. economy were put to full use for the benefit of the people (something which is actually impossible under capitalism) not only could all poverty in this country be immediately eliminated, not only could the standard of living for all the masses be vastly and almost immediately raised, not only could education and public services be hugely expanded, improved and made completely free—but all this could be done while at the same time providing jobs for everyone and lowering the average hours worked by those with jobs! The potential productive power is there to do all this, but the capitalist profit motive and its relations of production prevent it from actually happening.
This enormous productive potential of American industry is recognized very broadly, by liberals and conservatives and by most capitalists themselves. But what none of them can understand, because of their ideological blinders, is why this capitalist utopia never seems to actually come about. Why is it that all the past predictions of a comfortable future for all, with only very short work weeks required, instead keeps turning into a worsening nightmare, with growing unemployment, poverty and misery? It’s quite a puzzle for those who recognize capitalism’s productive potential but who, for ideological reasons, are completely unable to recognize the inherent internal flaw within capitalism which prevents its full productive potential from ever materializing, and certainly not for the benefit of all the people.
“America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed,
educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction
of us actually working.” —A 2011 CNN TV report, quoted in Robert W. McChesney and
John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a
Citizenless Democracy (2016), p. 21.
[That is certainly true. On the other hand, if there were also more jobs instead of fewer, then the benefits for the entire working class and everyone could be all the greater! But all that is only truly possible if capitalism is first transformed by proletarian revolution into genuine socialism. McChesney & Nichols note that “This gap between potential and reality is a long-term tension in capitalism...” It should be added that this tension is now reaching its extreme limits where something simply has to give! —Ed.]
UNITED STATES ECONOMY — Reliance on Foreign Sales
The U.S. is a large country with a more self-contained economy than many countries. However, it is also a major part of the world economy, and is dependent on the world market for considerable sales of its products, as well as for foreign investment in both directions. The chart at the right shows the varying dependence of particular U.S. industries on foreign sales in general, and also specifically on sales to Europe and the Middle East. (It should be noted that this chart shows the foreign sales only for the biggest corporations which are included in the Standard & Poor’s 500 list. Thus the average foreign sales of about 1/3 of their production is not true of the U.S. economy as a whole.)
[Figures in the chart are estimates for 2011 and 2012. *Excluding telecommunications companies and banks because the index only includes regional banks and companies in those sectors whose business is restricted to the United States. †Excluding sales in Canada and the Carribean. New York Times sources: Company reports; Citigroup Global Markets.]
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
See specific entries below, and: CONGRESS—U.S.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Control Of
[To be added...]
“The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaking to Colonel Edward M. House, Nov. 21, 1933. [Quoted in: Ronald Wright, What Is America? (2008), p. 169.]
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Expenditures of
[Intro to be added...]
|Some Big Budget Expenditures of the U.S. Government|
|Program||Cost (at the time)||Cost (2009 dollars)|
|Louisiana Purchase (1803)||$15 million||$217 billion|
|The New Deal (1933-1941)||$32 billion (est.)||$500 billion (est.)|
|Marshall Plan (1947-51)||$12.7 million||$115.3 billion|
|Korean War (1950-53)||$54 million||$454 billion|
|Race to the Moon (1960s)||$36.4 million||$237 billion|
|Vietnam War (c. 1961-75)||$111 million||$416.7 billion|
|S&L Crisis (1980s & 90s)||$153 million||$256 billion|
|Gulf War II/Invasion of Iraq (2003-?)||$551 million*||$597 billion*|
|Financial Crisis Bailouts (2008-?)||Many billions!**||Many billions!**|
* Full cost including the continuing occupation well over $1 trillion. |
** Final figure not yet known.
Based on: Barry Ritholtz, Bailout Nation (2009), Table 1.1,
from data provided by Bianco Research.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Lies Of
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Secrets Of
See also: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
“The U.S. government now produces more classified information than unclassified information—and, since even the amount of classified information is classified, we may never know how much dark matter there is.” —George Dyson, Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (2012), p. 334.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SPYING (On its Own Citizens)
See also: SURVEILLANCE STATE, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, “NATIONAL SECURITY STATE”, FISA COURTS, COMPUTERS—Security Of
“The United States government has perfected a technological capability
that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air.... That capability at any
time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy
left, such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone, conversations, telegrams,
it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.” —Senator Frank Church, Chair, Senate
Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities,
[Within a few years the government of the United States found it “necessary” to do exactly as Senator Church feared: have the National Security Agency spy on virtually every single communication in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, a goal which—as the revelations by Edward Snowden demonstrated—it has now almost fully achieved. —Ed.]
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Torture By
See: TORTURE — By U.S. Government
UNITED STATES HISTORY — The Real Story
American history, as it is indoctrinated into students in school and into the entire population via the bourgeois media, is basically one big lie. On rare occasions hints of this even make it into that media, as with the cartoon at the right. But overwhelmingly the almost endless historical crimes committed by the United States are minimized, excused, covered up or outright denied. This includes the massive genocide against the Native American peoples, most of the information about the horrifying history of slavery, the continuing vicious racism and discrimination, the exploitation and victimization of the American working class by the ruling capitalist class, and—of course—the vicious international exploitation, wars and other crimes around the world by U.S. imperialism over the past century and more.
Some general sources which will help to set the actual record straight include:
A People’s History of the United States: 1492—Present, by Howard Zinn, (NY: HarperPerennial, 1995).
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen, (NY: The New Press, 1995).
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, by William Blum, (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2000).
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM
[Introduction to be added...]
See also below, and: POST-COLD WAR STRATEGY OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
“In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow
more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in
30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and
defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries. It has fought to
suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.
“The extent and scale of this carnage is largely unreported, unrecognized; and those responsible continue to dominate Anglo-American political life.”
—John Pilger, “Silencing the Lambs: How Propaganda Works”, CounterPunch, Sept. 8, 2022, online at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/09/08/silencing-the-lambs-how-propaganda-works/
“U.S. imperialism, which looks like a huge monster, is in essence a paper
tiger, now in the throes of its death-bed struggle. In the world of today, who actually
fears whom? It is not the Vietnamese people, the Laotian people, the Cambodian people, the
Palestinian people, the Arab people or the people of other countries who fear U.S.
imperialism; it is U.S. imperialism which fears the people of the world. It becomes
panic-stricken at the mere rustle of leaves in the wind. Innumerable facts prove that a
just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds little support. A weak
nation can defeat a strong, a small nation can defeat a big. The people of a small country
can certainly defeat aggression by a big country, if only they dare to rise in struggle,
dare to take up arms and grasp in their own hands the destiny of their country. This is a
law of history.
“People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs!” —Mao, from his statement of May 20, 1970; Peking Review, Special Issue, May 23, 1970.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Early Aspirations Towards
From the time of the American Revolution of the late 1700s, and the creation of the United States as a separate country independent of Britain, there have always existed strong and continuing aspirations among a great many American politicians and ideologists in support of eventually turning the new country into a powerful empire which would include at least all of the North American continent. (I am sorry to say that even my primary hero of the American Revolution, Tom Paine, promoted this idea in his great revolutionary pamphlet Common Sense . —S.H.) This was a central motive which led to the War of 1812 in which the U.S. hoped to conquer Canada and incorporate it into the U.S. And a few decades later it led to the Mexican-American War in which the U.S. successfully stole half of the territory of Mexico.
Although capitalism had not yet been transformed into the stage of monopoly capitalism (or capitalist-imperialism) in which imperialism was essential and absolutely necessary to it, nevertheless many capitalist countries—including Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, and the United States—did engage in imperialist wars and conquests during this pre-monopoly capitalist period. And thus near the end of the 19th century, when capitalist-imperialism did arise as the new stage of capitalism, the American ruling class was raring and anxious to participate in it in the form of the Spanish-American War in which the U.S. stole many colonies from Spain. But the point here is that modern U.S. capitalist-imperialism had an old-style imperialist practice and ideological incubation period which lasted for more than a century.
“Almost a century before Hitler, Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, talked about making the United States into ‘the successor of the few great states which have alternately borne commanding sway in the world’. For Seward, establishing ‘control of this continent is to be in a very few years the controlling influence in the world’.” —Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (2008), p. 3.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Crimes Of
[To be added...]
See also: UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM—Invasions of Other Countries, NUCLEAR WEAPONS—America’s Use of in World War II
“I never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.” —George H. W. Bush, while campaigning for President in 1988, speaking soon after the U.S. warship Vincennes “accidently” shot down an Iranian airliner on July 3, 1988, killing all 290 people on board. [Quoted in Harper’s magazine, November 1990.]
“You think our country’s so innocent?” —President Trump, pushing back against Fox News interviewer Bill O’Reilly for calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer”, February 4, 2017. [Widely reported, including in Time magazine, Feb. 20, 2017, p. 8. Indeed the American imperialist ruling class is one of the greatest bunch of mass killers in history, though it is startling to hear any of their politicians let even a hint of this pass their lips! —Ed.]
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — and Democracy
“We have 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent
of its population... In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy
and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of
relationships which will allow us to maintain this position of disparity. We
should cease to talk about the raising of the living standards, human rights, and
democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in
straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the
better.” —George Kennan, Director of Policy Planning of the Department of State,
Department of State, Policy Planning Study 23: Foreign Relations of the
United States, 1948, vol. 1 (part 2), Feb. 24, 1948, p. 23.
[Of course later on the U.S. government recognized the need to both employ military force to maintain its empire and at the same time to verbally pretend to be supporting peace, freedom and democracy around the world. They have learned quite well to use the words while rejecting the actual concepts. —S.H.]
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Foreign Military Bases
For many decades U.S. imperialism, as the world’s dominant and most agressive military power, has had hundreds of military bases in other countries all around the world. The map at the right shows the official number of U.S. bases, both in the U.S. and abroad, as of 2002.
It is difficult to say exactly how many foreign U.S. bases there are for several reasons, and especially because the number is constantly changing and because many of them are “hidden” or “unofficial”. A recent serious study of U.S. foreign bases by David Vine, for his book entitled Base Nation (2015), points out that there has been a “temporary” U.S. base in Honduras since 1982, “allowing oficials to claim there’s no U.S. base in Honduras while circumventing the Honduran constitution’s prohibition against a permanent foreign troop presence.” [David Vine, “Where in the World Is the U.S. Military?”, July/August 2015, online at: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/us-military-bases-around-the-world-119321] He points out similar deceptions for bases in Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere. In addition there is the problem of what to count as a “base” in the first place, since they vary in size from small radar installations (often operated in cooperation with the host country) all the way up to moderately sized and virtually American cities located in other countries. Vine resolves that difficulty by referring to the smaller installations as “lily pads”. (See map below.)
Because of the growing U.S. and world economic crisis, the U.S. has had to close down hundreds of foreign bases in recent years. In addition, it prematurely declared “victory” in its last war in Iraq and closed down most of its 505 bases (at its peak) in that one country alone. (An incredible number in just one single country!) Despite all these closures the U.S. still had almost 800 foreign bases in more than 70 countries and territories as of mid-2015. This compared to a total of only about 30 foreign bases for Britain, France and Russia added together. [David Vine, ibid.]
The cost of maintaining all these bases and troops overseas is enormous. Vine estimates that the cost for fiscal 2014 was roughly $85 to $100 billion, and that the total cost, including bases and troops in war zones, was between $160 and $200 billion. (And that still doesn’t even begin to account for the full cost of these current wars.) The U.S. imperialists are more and more worried about this, and that is why they are demanding that other countries pay for more of this cost. This is what lies behind President Trump’s current demands that the other NATO countries pay for maintaining U.S. bases in Europe.
Despite the concentration of U.S. bases in Europe and Asia, where they are clearly most centrally focused on the major imperialist opponents of the U.S., namely Russia and China, there is also a growing focus on Africa which doesn’t show up on the map above. This is because the U.S. military activity in Africa is mostly managed from their AFRICOM facilities located in Sicily.
It is true that U.S. imperialism has been gradually weakening relative to other imperialist powers since the end of World War II, both economically and even militarily. The rapid rise of imperialist China in recent decades is especially changing the overall situation quite rapidly. Nevertheless, as this survey of the massive overseas military presence of the U.S. shows, American imperialism remains a very powerful and practically ubiquitous military force around the world today.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Invasions of Other Countries
SELECTED UNITED STATES INVASIONS, ATTACKS AND INTERVENTIONS |
Including via CIA-armed and trained proxies or at the “invitation” of client regimes. This is a small but
representative sampling of the vast number of military interventions the U.S. always has underway around
the world. This does not include the many countries invaded in World War I and World War II.
|Country||Year(s)||U.S. Actions and Other Comments|
|Operation Infinite Reach: Cruise missile attack against claimed “terrorist training camp” (actually abandoned?). |
Major U.S. imperialist war. This was the longest-lasting war in U.S. history.
||“Operation Silver Wake: U.S. military forces used to evacuate certain U.S. government employees [agents?] and |
private U.S. citizens [more agents?] from Tirana.”
Portuguese West Africa)
|1860 (March 1)||“To protect American lives and property at Kissembo when the natives became troublesome.”|
|Marines landed in Buenos Aires “to protect American interests during a revolution”. |
“A naval party landed to protect our consulate and legation in Buenos Aires.”
Plotted and directed army coup, but was defeated.
Engineered coup by reactionary officers, set up pro-U.S. Guido regime.
|Directed Ballivian’s coup; established military dictatorship. |
|“To protect American commerce and shipping at Rio de Janeiro during the Brazilian civil war.” |
Master-minded military coup, forcing President G. Vargas to commit suicide.
Plotted coup, but failed.
Stage-managed coup forcing President Quadros to resign; unsuccessful attempt to set up military dictatorship.
Stage-managed military coup & set up pro-U.S. military regime.
1970 (Apr. 30-June 30)
|Massive murderous bombings and invasions during Vietnam War. |
Cambodian Campaign: One of the largest individual invasions of Cambodia during the long U.S. war in S.E. Asia.
About 550 U.S. military personnel deployed to Utapao Air Base in Thailand for possible use in Cambodia.
||U.S. military deployed 300 troops to help prop up the comprador regime there, focused mostly on reconnaissance. |
|Central African Republic||1991 (Sept.)
|U.S. military and logistical support for French troops carried into the country, and to evacuate American citizens. |
“Operation Quick Response: President Clinton deployed U.S. military personnel to Bangui ... to protect and evacuate
private U.S. citizens and certain U.S. government employees” (agents?).
|Deployment of U.S. Air Force jets and personnel to oppose rebel forces and Libyan intervention. |
50 U.S. troops deployed “to help evacuate U.S. citizens and embassy personnel from the neighboring Central African Republic.”
|“To protect the American consulate and [those] who had taken refuge in it during a revolution in Valparaiso.” |
Plotted to dissolve parliament and set up military dictatorship, but was defeated.
Military fascist coup d’état probably instigated by, and definitely strongly supported by, the U.S. CIA, which
led to the overthrow of the democratically elected socialist government and the death of President Salvador Allende.
|China||1854 (April 4-June 15 or 17)
1855 (May 19-21(?))
1856 (Oct. 22-Dec. 6)
1859 (July 31-Aug. 2)
1866 (June 20-July 7)
1867 (June 13)
1898 (Nov.)-1899 (March)
1926 (Aug.-Sept.; Nov.)
1927 (Feb.-March, and later)
|Intervened to “protect American interests in and near Shanghai during Chinese civil strife”. |
“To protect American interests in Shanghai.”
“To protect American interests in Canton during hostilities between the British and the Chinese;
and to avenge an unprovoked assault upon an unarmed boat displaying the United States flag.”
For the protection of American interests in Shanghai.
Various actions, including to punish an assault on the American consul at Newchwang.
Formosa [Taiwan]: “To punish a horde of savages who were supposed to have murdered the crew of a wrecked American vessel.”
“Marines were stationed at Tientsin and penetrated to Peking for protection purposes during the Sino-Japanese War.”
“Naval vessel beached and used as a fort at Newchwang for protection of American nationals.”
“To provide a guard for the legation at Peking and the consulate at Tientsin during contest between Dowager Empress and her son.”
Multi-imperialist invasion to suppress the “Boxer Rebellion”. The U.S. military garrison was maintained
in Peking for many years. It was still there in 1934.
During the approaching 1911 Revolution a small U.S. detachment tried to rescue missionaries in Wuchang, but was warned away.
Other U.S. military units were sent to guard private American property in Hankow, Shangai, Nanking, and elsewhere.
On “Kentucky Island” and at Camp Nicholson: “To protect Americans and American interests during revolutionary activity.”
Thousands of U.S. troops in China under various pretexts. “In 1927, the U.S. had 5,670 troops ashore in China and 44 naval
vessels in its waters. In 1933 we had 3,027 armed men ashore. All this protective action was in general
terms based on [forced!] treaties with China ranging from 1858 to 1901.”
A landing force was sent ashore briefly “to protect lives during a disturbance at Kiukiang.”
“Marines were landed to protect American and other foreigners in Shanghai during Chinese factional hostilities.”
American forces landed in Shanghai “to protect lives and property in the International Settlement.”
During the Nationalist attack on Hankow, American forces were landed “to protect American citizens”. Similarly in Kiukiang in Sept.
“Fighting at Shanghai caused American naval forces and marines to be increased there.” American ships shelled Chinese positions
“to protect Americans and other foreigners. Following this incident additional forces of marines and
naval vessels were ordered to China and stationed in the vicinity of Shanghai and Tientsin.”
“In October 50,000 U.S. Marines were sent to North China to assist Chinese Nationalist authorities in disarming and repatriating
the Japnese in China and in controlling ports, railroads, and airfields. This was in addition to approximately
60,000 U.S. forces remaining in China at the end of World War II.”
Massive U.S. military aid to the reactionary regime of Chiang Kai-shek, leading to many more Chinese deaths.
“Marines were dispatched to Nanking to protect the American Embassy when the city fell to Communist troops, and to Shanghai
to aid in the protection and evacuations of Americans.”
U.S. 7th Fleet further intervened in the Chinese civil war to protect Chiang Kai-shek’s escaping troops on Taiwan.
Hainan Island Incident: A U.S. Navy spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter plane near Hainan Island.
|Colombia||1860 (Sept. 27-Oct. 8)
1868 (Spr. 7)
1873 (May, Sept. & Oct.)
1895 (March 8-9)
|In the Bay of Panama. “To protect American interests during a revolution.” |
At Aspenwall: “To protect passengers and treasure in transit during the absence of local police or troops
on the occasion of the death of the President of Colombia.”
“To protect American interests during hostilities over possession of the government of the state of Panama.”
“To protect American interests during an attack on the town of Bocas del Toro by a bandit chieftain.”
[Panama State] “To protect American property on the Isthmus and to keep transit lines open during serious
“To protect American lives and property at Bocas del Toro during a civil war.”
[Panama State] “To place armed guards on all trains crossing the Isthmus and to keep the railroad line open.”
50-100 military “advisers” sent to Colombia (and others to Peru and Bolivia) as part of the U.S.“War on Drugs”.
|Provided military support to aid Belgium and its comprador regime in putting down an insurrection. |
Provided military transport and support to aid the comprador regime in putting down another revolt.
Provided military transport support for Belgian and French military interventions (“rescue operations”) in Zaire.
Military and logistical support for Belgian military intervention in Kinshasa during civil disorders.
“President Clinton reported that a standby evacuation force of U.S. military personnel had been deployed to Congo
and Gabon to provide enhanced security.”
|Costa Rica||1955 (Jan.)||U.S. ordered attack by Nicaraguan dictator A. Somoza, which was repulsed.|
1906 (Sept.)-1909 (Sept.)
|Spanish-American War, and informal seizure of Cuba from Spain. |
“Intervention to restore order, protect foreigners, and establish a stable government after serious revolutionary activity.”
“To protect American interests in the Province of Oriente, and in Havana.”
“To protect American interests during an insurrection and subsequent unsettled conditions. Most U.S. troops left Cuba
by Aug. 1919, but two companies remained at Camaguey until Feb. 1922.”
“During a revolution against President Gerardo Machado naval forces demonstrated but no landing was made.”
U.S. instigated coup, installed dictator Batista.
The Caribbean: Second Marine Ground Task Force deployed to protect U.S. nationals (and tacitly threaten Castro)
in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution.
U.S. organized and led the Bay of Pigs invasion and fiasco.
Cuban Missile Crisis: U.S. threatened attack on Cuba and nuclear war against USSR if Russian missiles
were not withdrawn. World came very close to nuclear war, but Khrushchev backed down.
||“U.S. combat equipped and support forces” deployed to Djibouti to help enhance its “counterterrorist capabilities”. |
|Dominican Republic||1903 (March-Apr.)
1916 (May)-1924 (Sept.)
|“To protect American interests in the city of Santo Domingo during a revolutionary outbreak.” |
“To protect American interests in Puerto Plata, Sosua and Santo Domingo City during revolutionary fighting.”
“During a revolutionary movement, U.S. naval forces used gunfire” to oppose the forces it opposed and to “maintain
Santo Domingo City as a neutral zone.”
“To maintain order during a period of chronic and threatened insurrection.”
2,000 U.S. marines landed to threaten Dominican people.
Landed 4,000 U.S. marines.
Sent 40 warships to Dominican waters and threated invasion to stop possible revolution.
Dispatched warships to Dominican waters to support puppet President Balaguer.
Engineered coup by ultra-Right-wing military & police to set up pro-U.S. dictatorship.
U.S. invasion by 20,000 troops called “Operation Power Pack” to put down a revolution attempting to
restore the elected leader Juan Bosch to power. “The revolution was crushed when U.S. Marines
landed to uphold the military regime by force.”
|Conspired with reactionaries in Ecuador to set up dictatorship, but failed. |
Instigated coup by reactionary military clique to set up dictatorial regime.
|Egypt||1882 (July 14-18)
|“To protect American interests during warfare between British and Egyptians and looting of Alexandria by Arabs.” |
Marine battalion landed in Alexandria during the Suez Crisis (initiated by Britain, France and Israel).
“Operation Bright Star”: U.S. army and airforce units deployed in Sinai to train and support troops of comprador regime.
President Reagan sends more U.S. troops and equipment to Sinai.
Engineered coup, set up pro-U.S. dictatorial regime.
Instigated coup; installed Osorio’s one-man rule.
Additional U.S. militiary advisors sent to assist in training repressive government forces in counterinsurgency operations.
|Fiji Islands||1855 (Sept. 12-Nov. 4)
1858 (Oct. 6-16)
|“To seek reparations for depradations on Americans.” |
Military intervention “to chastize the natives for the murder of two American citizens.”
||“U.S. combat equipped and support forces” deployed to Georgia to help enhance its “counterterrorist capabilities”. |
||Reagan’s “Operation Urgent Fury”, the invasion which overthrew the local government after the island nation had |
the temerity to open an international airport and try to broaden its international relations. One of the most
ridiculous and pettiest U.S. imperialist invasions ever!
||Spanish-American War. Annexed Guam as a U.S. territory. |
|Sent naval and air forces to Caribbean Sea to threaten Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Landed troops to protect American |
interests, including a sea cable station, during a period of fighting between unionists and the government.
Organized invasion from Honduras; overthrew the democratic Arbenz government.
Sent naval forces to Caribbean to interfere in both Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Directed coup to set up a more pro-U.S. military dictatorship.
U.S. supported death-squad regime murdered tens of thousands.
|Haiti||1888 (Dec. 20)
|“To persuade the Haitian government to give up an American steamer which had been seized [for running a] blockade.” |
“To protect American lives and property on Navassa Island when Negro laborers got out of control.”
“To protect American nationals in a time of dangerous unrest.”
“To maintain order during a period of chronic and threatened insurrection.”
Directed military coup, which failed.
U.S. ships begin an embargo against Haiti. Up to 20,000 U.S. troops were later deployed to restore President Aristide
to power after a coup d’état.
U.S. troops sent during a coup d’état, and kidnap President Aristide and his family.
|Hawaii||1874 (Feb. 12-20)
|“To preserve order and protect American lives and interests during the inauguration of a new king.” |
“To protect American interests at Honolulu during a revolution.”
Ostensibly to protect American lives and property; actually to promote a provisional government
under Sanford B. Dole. This action was later disavowed by the U.S.
Annexed as a territory; became a U.S. State in 1959.
1924 (Feb.-March; Sept.)
|“To protect the American consulate and the steamship wharf at Puerto Cortez during a period of revolutionary activity.” |
“To protect American interests during a war between Honduras and Nicaragua;” U.S. troops stationed in numerous cities.
“To protect American lives and interests during a civil war in Honduras.”
“Small U.S. force landed to prevent seizure by the Government of an American-owned railroad at Puerto Cortez.”
U.S government later disavowed this particular action.
“A landing force was sent ashore to mantain order in a neutral zone during an attempted revolution.”
“To protect American lives and interests during election hostilities.”
“To protect foreigners at La Ceiba during a political upheaval.”
Stage-managed a coup by reactionary army officers to set up dictatorial regime.
U.S. military deployments and exercises in Honduras and promotion of Honduran provocations against Nicaragua.
1980 (Apr. 26)
|Coup d’état organized by the CIA and the British MI6 which overthrew the democratically elected moderate nationalist |
government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh (who was then imprisoned).
“Operation Eagle Claw”: President Carter’s unsuccessful military raid attempting to rescue “American hostages”.
With U.S. support, Saudi Arabian fighter planes shot down two Iranian fighter planes over the Persian Gulf.
“Operation Nimble Archer”: Two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf attacked by U.S. in claimed retaliation for an
Iranian assault on a Kuwaiti oil tanker. Followed by other U.S. military actions against Iran.
U.S.S. Vincennes shoots down Iranian civilian airliner flight 655 killing all 290 people aboard.
U.S. sent ships to the Strait of Hormuz to confront and threaten Iranian vessels.
|First Gulf War: Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. |
Further U.S. bombings and intervention, supposedly in support of Kurds in northern Iraq.
U.S. military control of Iraqi airspace (“no fly zones”) with intermittent bombings and attacks.
“Operation Desert Fox: U.S. & British forces conduct a major 4-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets.”
Iraq War and Occupation: Over 100,000 more Iraqis killed.
New U.S. war launched against ISIS and other radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Syria.
1863 (July 16)
1863 (July 14-Aug. 3 approximately)
1864 (Sept. 4-14)
1868 (Mainly Feb., Apr.-June)
|The forcible “Opening of Japan” by U.S. Commodore Perry. |
Ryukyu and Bonin Islands: Commodore Perry landed troops twice and forced a coaling concession on Okinawa for U.S. ships.
“To redress an insult to the American flag—firing on an American vessel—at Shimonoseki.”
To protect the U.S. Minister to Japan when he visited Yedo to negotiate about some American claims against Japan and to
make his negotiations easier by impressing the Japanese with American power.
To compel Japan and the Prince of Nagato in particular to permit the Straits of Shimonoseki to be used by foreign shipping.
“To protect American interests during the civil war in Japan over the abolition of the Shogunate
and the restoration of the Mikado.”
||150 U.S. combat troops deployed to Jordan “to help keep the Syrian civil war contained”. |
|Kenya and Tanzania||1998-1999
||U.S. military personnel deployed to both countries in the aftermath of the bombing of U.S. embassies. |
|Korea||1871 (June 10-12)
1904 (Jan.)-1905 (Nov.)
|“To punish natives for deprdations on Americans, particularly for murdering the crew of the General Sherman and |
burning the schooner” and other attacks on American ships.
“To protect American residents in Seoul during unsettled political conditions” when an uprising was expected.
“To protect American lives and interests at Seoul during and following the Sino-Japanese War.”
“To guard the American Legation in Seoul.”
“Marine guard sent to Seoul for protection [of whom?] during Russo-Japanese War.”
“Post-World War II occupation of South Korea.”
Korean War: Major U.S. imperialist war which killed millions.
2013 Korean Crisis: U.S. threats of war against North Korea.
Trumps’s ultimatums and threats of nuclear attack on North Korea, followed by temporary relaxation of tensions.
||Operation Desert Strike: U.S. air attacks supposedly “to protect the Kurdish population against Iraqi army attacks”. |
|U.S. engaged in a constant secret war to try to overthrow the existing regime. |
Massive murderous bombings and invasions, especially along the ‘Ho Chi Minh Trail’, as part of the
U.S.’s war against Vietnam.
|Marines were landed at the ‘invitation’ of the comprador lackey President Camille Chamoun to help forestall an insurrection. |
President Reagan sent 800 Marines to force Palestinian forces out of Beirut.
Reagan deployed 1,200 marines to try to support the re-establishment of a lackey government in Lebanon.
U.S. military begins evacuation of U.S. citizens as part of cover for Israeli military operations in Lebanon.
|Marines sent “to provide additional security to the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, and helicopters evacuated U.S. citizens.” |
U.S. military unit sent to Monrovia as a “stand-by response and evacuation force”.
President Bush sent Marines into Monrovia “to secure the U.S. embassy” during the Second Liberian Civil War.
|“First Gulf of Sidra incident, on Aug. 19, 1981. U.S. planes based on the carrier USS Nimitz shot down two Libyan jets”. |
U.S. naval forces operating in Libyan waters in the Gulf of Sidra exchange missile fire with Libyan military.
“Operation El Dorado Canyon”: U.S. bombed Libyan military targets in the capitol of Tripoli in claimed retaliation
for a terrorist incident at a disco in Germany.
“Second Gulf of Sidra incident, on Jan. 4, 1989, two U.S. Navy F-14 aircraft based on the carrier USS John F. Kennedy
shot down two Libyan jet fighters” about in claimed Libyan waters about 70 miles from the Libyan coast.
“Operation Odyssey Dawn”: U.S. military intervention into Libya with bombings of Libyan forces.
Raids by U.S. Special Forces in Tripoli against claimed terrorists.
||“U.S. forces assisted the French intervention in Operation Serval” with transport aircraft, etc. |
1913 (Sept. 3-7)
1954 (Latter half)
|Theft of much of Mexico’s territory in major war. |
Two hundred U.S. soldiers crossed the Rio Grande in pursuit of Mexican bandit Cortina.
U.S. General Sedgwick and 100 men forced the surrender of Matamoras “to protect American residents”. But
after 3 days the U.S. government ordered his withdrawal and he was repudiated by the President.
“A few marines landed at Ciaris Estero to aid in evacuating American citizens and others from the Yaqui Valley... during civil strife.”
An undeclared U.S. war against Mexico which included Gen. Pershing’s invasion into northern Mexico and the occupation of
Veracruz. After Pershing’s withdrawal, U.S. troops continued to invade Mexico in pursuit of bandits. And a battle was
fought between U.S. and Mexican troops at Nogales in August 1918.
U.S. instigated coup, which was defeated by the Mexican people.
|Morocco||1904||Tangier: Naval squadron arrived to force release of a kidnapped American. Marine guard also landed to protect consul general. |
|Nicaragua||1853 (March 11-13)
1854 (July 9-15)
1857 (April-May, Nov.-Dec.)
1894 (July 6-Aug. 7)
1896 (May 2-4)
1898 (Feb. 7-8)
|U.S. Marines landed “to protect American lives and interests during political disturbances”. |
U.S. destroyed San Juan del Norte (Greytown) “to avenge an insult to the American Minister to Nicaragua”.
U.S. intervention in partial opposition to, and partial support of, the American adventurer William Walker’s
attempt to seize power.
“To protect American interests at Bluefields following a revolution.”
“To protect American interests in Corinto during political unrest.”
“To protect American lives and property at San Juan del Sur.”
To protect American interests at San Juan del Norte, and at Bluefields a few weeks later during an insurrection.
Unspecified U.S. intervention during war between Honduras & Nicaragua.
“During a civil war, to get information on conditions in Corinto; and from May-Sept. to protect American interests at Bluefields.”
“To protect American interests during an attempted revolution. A small force serving as a legation guard and as a
promoter of peace and governmental stability, remained until Aug. 5, 1925.”
“The coup d’etat of General Chamorro aroused revolutionary activities leading to the landing of American marines to protect the
interests of the United States. U.S. forces came and went, but seem not to have left the country entirely
until Jan. 3, 1933. Their work included activity against the outlaw leader Sandino in 1928.”
U.S. mined Bluefields, Corinto & Puerto Sandino harbors.
||“Special Forces troops are sent to Nigeria to lead a training mission in the countryside.” |
|U.S. drone air attacks kill many civilians especially in Northwest Pakistan. |
U.S. Navy Seals [special forces] raid kills Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
|Massive, and overall hugely expanding, military aid to the Israeli Zionists to try to suppress any Palestinian |
resistance to the theft of their country.
“Operation Nickel Grass, a strategic airlift operation conducted by the U.S. to deliver weapons and supplies to
Israel during the Yom Kippur War.”
|Panama||1856 (Sept. 19-22)
1865 (March 9-10)
1885 (Jan., March-May)
|“To protect American interests during an insurrection.” |
“To protect the lives and property of American residents during a revolution.”
“To guard the valuables in transit over the Panama Railroad” and re-establish the security of commercial transport.”
U.S. manipulated independence of Panama from Colombia for the purpose of building and controlling the Panama Canal.
“With brief intermissions, U.S. Marines were stationed there [until] Jan. 21, 1914, to guard American interests.”
“To protect American lives and property at Ancon at the time of a threatened insurrection.”
At the request of two major parties (both compradors), U.S. troops land to supervise elections outside the Canal Zone.
U.S. military landed for “police duty according to treaty stipulations” at Chiriqui during election disturbances and subsequant unrest.
“Strikes and rent riots led to the landing of about 600 American troops to keep order and protect American interests.”
Massacred Panamanian people defending their national sovereignty.
Sent in 1,000 troops to “further safeguard the canal, U.S. lives, property and interests in the area.”
(In addition to 10,000 U.S. troops already there.)
Two to six thousand people reported killed in U.S. invasion which overthrew and imprisoned President Noriega.
|Congress authorized a naval squadron to seek redress for an attack on a naval vessel in the Parana River during 1855.|
Engineered coup; set up Stroessner dictatorship in July.
|Engineered military coup; set up Odria dictatorial regime.|
Instigated military coup; set up Perez Godoy dictatorial regime.
Again instigated coup and set up a more pro-U.S. dictatorial regime.
|Spanish-American War and then bloody U.S. suppression of Filipino war for independence. |
U.S. fighter planes stationed at Clark Air Force Base in Luzon intervene to prop up the comprador Aquino government
during an attempted insurrection.
|Spanish-American War. Annexed as a territory. |
|Russia (Soviet Union)||1918-1920
1920 (Feb. 16)-1922 (Nov. 19)
|Part of a multi-nation invasion attempting to overthrown the Bolshevik Revolution. 7,000 U.S. troops were landed at |
Vladivostok in Aug. 1918 and remained until Jan. 1920. Another 5,000 U.S. troops were landed at Archangel in Sept.
1918, remained until June 1919, and suffered 500 casualties.
“A marine guard was landed to protect a U.S. radio station and property on a Russian island in the Bay of Vladivostok.”
|“To protect American citizens and the consulate during a native civil war.” |
Annexed as a territory.
||“Operation Desert Shield”: Large deployment of U.S. forces near Kuwait; a build up of forces ahead of the first Iraq War. |
|“Operation Silver Anvil”: Joint intervention with European imperialist powers to safeguard foreign citizens and interests. |
Military personnel deployed in Freetown to undertake the evacuation of U.S. government employees (spies?)
and private citizens.
|First Battle of Mogadishu: U.S. forces attempt to occupy urban areas. Two Black Hawk helicopters shot down. |
In one attack alone U.S. missiles kill 100 unarmed people.
Battle of Ras Kamboni: Including air strikes on a suspected al-Qaeda operative.
Continuing series of drone strikes begin against Shabaab militants. This makes the 6th nation in which such
strikes are being carried out, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
Navy Seals conduct one or more raids in Somalia killing some people who “may” have been connected with Al-Shabaab.
|Spain||1898||The Spanish-American War, the first modern U.S. full-scale imperialist war which led to |
U.S. takeover of Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, and many other Spanish colonies.
||Operation Infinite Reach: Cruise missile attack on claimed “terrorist chemical factory” which was actually Sudan’s |
primary pharmaceutical plant.
|“To protect the American consulate in Beirut when a local Moslem uprising was feared.” |
Ongoing U.S. war against ISIS and other factions.
Shayrat missile strike on a Syrian government air base after President Trump claimed (probably falsely) that
chemical weapons had been used.
U.S. bombing of Damascus and Homs.
||5,000 marines landed to prop up the government threatened with revolutionary insurrection. |
|Display of naval force along the Levant at the request of the Secretary of State after massacre of Americans at Jaffa and |
mistreatment elsewhere “to remind the authorities of Turkey of the power of the United States.”
“To guard the American legation at Constantinople during the Balkan War.”
A landing force was sent ashore to protect American lives and property when the Turkish Nationalists entered Smyrna.
“400 troops and two batteries of Patriot missiles deployed to prevent any missile strikes from Syria.”
|U.S. combat troops sent in as military advisers. |
U.S. planes and soldiers deployed as part of the continuing search for Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s
Resistance Army guerrilla group.
|Uruguay||1855 (Nov. 25-29/30)
1858 (Jan. 2-27)
|“U.S. & European naval forces landed to protect American interests during an attempted revolution in Montevideo.” |
“Forces from 2 U.S. warships landed to protect American property during a revolution in Montevideo.”
“To protect foreign residents and the customhouse during an insurrection at Montevideo.”
Instigated right-wing army coup, but failed.
1958 (July, Sept. & Nov.)
|Stage-managed coup; set up P. Jimenez dictatorship. |
Instigated three coups, which were all defeated.
Current U.S. partially secret and partially open involvement in attempted coup d’état.
1972 (Dec. 18-29)
|First military advisors sent to Vietnam on Feb. 12, 1955; grew to 21,000 by 1964. |
Major U.S. imperialist war against Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia which killed millions of people. At its peak in
April 1969 the U.S. had 543,000 troops in Vietnam.
“Operation Linebacker”: Massive Christmas-time bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong by B-52 bombers.
|U.S. Military personnel deployed to Aden after the U.S.S. Cole was attacked in that port. |
American Hellfire missile attack on an automobile which U.S. thought held someone involved in the U.S.S. Cole attack.
Continuing series of drone attacks on suspected al-Qaeda, Shabaab, and ISIS positions in Yemen. [Independent of Saudi War.]
U.S. Navy Seals conduct a series of raids and interventions.
U.S. semi-secret participation in reactionary Saudi religious war against the Houthis.
(and its pieces)
|U.S. military intervention in Balkan internal struggles, including many bombings. |
“Operation Deny Flight”: U.S. & NATO establish “no fly zone” over Bosnian airspace, with periodic bombings and attacks.
U.S. deploys 350 troops in the Republic of Macedonia “to maintain stability”. Number of troops further increased in 1994.
Banja Luka incident in Bosnia: U.S. shoots down 4 Bosnian jet planes for violating “no fly zone” rules.
“Operation Deliberate Force: U.S. and NATO aircraft begin a major bombing campaign of Bosnian Serb Army” and later
deployed a large number of “peacekeeper” ground troops.
“Operation Joint Guard: U.S. and NATO militaries establish the SFOR peacekeepers to enforce the peace.”
“Operation Allied Force: U.S. & NATO aircraft began a major bombing of Serbia and Serb positions in Kosovo.”
U.S./NATO bombing of Chinese Embassy in Belgrade
|From: U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations and Committee on Armed Services. Hearing: Situation in Cuba (Sept. 17, 1962) [Discusses U.S. intervention around the world, not just in Cuba. Most of the comments in quote marks in the chart above come from this source or the next one.]; “Timeline of United States Military Operations” on the Wikipedia [generally also from a bourgeois perspective]; “Selected Crimes of a Global Terrorist”, Revolution, #232, published by the RCPUSA, May 15, 2011, p. 10; “U.S. Political Intervention and Armed Subversion in Latin America” (Peking Review, #22, May 28, 1965); and from additional sources mostly consisting of articles in bourgeois newspapers and magazines.|
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Perpetual Wars Of
See also the entry above and the other entries in this section on U.S. Imperialism.
[U.S. imperialism is now constantly at war with multiple countries,
and is actively dropping bombs on many different countries every year, and otherwise
attacking them militarily. Here are the semi-official statistics for bombs dropped on
other countries for the year 2016 (though it is very likely that these figures are
“The U.S. dropped 26,171 bombs last year, 3,027 more than in 2015, according to an analysis of Defense Department data from the Council on Foreign Relations. Here are the most targeted countries:
[Bombs dropped on other countries: 14]”
—“America’s Biggest Targets”, Time magazine, January 23, 2017, p. 11.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Rise Of
According to the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint, the United States became an imperialist power near the end of the 19th century, and the Spanish-American War—in which the U.S. stole the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other colonies from Spain—was the formal inauguration of U.S. imperialism on the world stage.
However, as of 1900 the U.S. was not yet the most powerful imperialist country in the world; that was still Britain. But Britain and the other old-line imperialist powers were greatly weakened in World Wars I and II, while U.S. imperialism continued to rise. By the end of World War II the U.S. stood at the apex of its power in the world, though it was then also confronted by the rising socialist country, the Soviet Union.
The U.S. has (so far) remained the single most powerful imperialist country since World War II, though as head of a new imperialist world system in which other imperialist powers also participate. And the other imperialist countries soon regained a lot of economic strength—especially Germany and Japan. Moreover, two new imperialist countries eventually arose: First Soviet social-imperialism, when the socialist U.S.S.R. was captured from within by a newly arisen bourgeois state-capitalist class, and later China. After Mao’s death China was captured by capitalist-roaders led by Deng Xiaoping who soon completely destroyed Chinese socialism. By the year 2000 China was already emerging as an important new imperialist power.
So while the United States is still the most powerful imperialist country, especially militarily, it is now clearly in a period of decline. At first the decline was slow, but it is now speeding up.
“By all these indicators—power, influence, scope of interest,
and role—between 1914 and 1945 the United States became an empire.
“The seed time of the American Empire, to be sure, lay well before the two world wars, roughly in the 1880s and 1890s. In that era the United States went from being a second-rate power at best to a nation recognized by the statesmen of Europe as having joined the ranks of the great powers. The United States led the world in the production of wheat, coal, iron, and steel. J. Pierpont Morgan and John D. Rockefeller personified the stupdendous rise of American riches. The total capital in American banks exceded that of any other country, and the total value of American industrial output equaled that of any two competitors.
“With wealth came might. The same period saw the construction of big-gun steel warships. Although the American fleet by no means was a challenge to Great Britain’s, congressional authorizations brought it abreast of Germany’s and ahead of Austria-Hungary’s and Italy’s.”
“The emergence of American naval power encouraged businessmen to push aggressively into foreign markets. Rockefeller reached out to challenge French, Russian, and Dutch oil firms in the Middle East and Asia, and Andrew Carnegie was beginning to sell steel in Europe itself. Occasional newspaper editors and politicians mused about resuming the old contest with Great Britain and even talked about the conquest of Canada. Nothing came of that, but the United States did acquire its first territory beyond the water’s edge. [E.g., Hawaii, which became a de facto U.S. protectorate in 1893 and then was formally annexed in 1898.]
“... [D]uring the Spanish-American War... [the U.S.] acquired Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines. America now possessed a small seaborne empire. Soon afterward President Theodore Roosevelt bullied, blustered, and bragged his way into the seizure of the Panama Canal Zone, making the United States a power in the Caribbean and the Pacific alike.”
—Robert Smith Thompson, The Eagle Triumphant: How America Took Over the British Empire (2004), pp. 322-323. [Though this is all true, Thompson is not a Marxist, so he speaks in terms of a U.S. colonial “empire” rather than about U.S. imperialism. Similarly, in other sections of his book in talking merely about how the U.S. took over the British empire, he seems to have failed to recognize that something more basic was also going on at the end of World War II. The U.S., even at its peak of individual power, did not merely supplant Britain as the top dog among imperialist powers; it also led in transforming world imperialism into a new world imperialist system by institutionalizing neocolonialism and setting up agencies such as the IMF, World Bank, and what eventually developed into the World Trade Organzation. —S.H.]
UNITED STATES/NATO BOMBING OF CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE (1999)
See: CHINESE EMBASSY BOMBING BY U.S./NATO (1999)
“UNITED STATES OF EUROPE” SLOGAN
See: LENIN—On War
UNITY AND STRUGGLE
“The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.” —Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics” (1915), LCW 38:360.
UNITY OF OPPOSITES [Dialectics]
See also: CONTRADICTION—Dialectical, DIALECTICS, ONE-INTO-TWO
“Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man’s thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change. Contradictions exist everywhere, but they differ in accordance with the different nature of different things. In any given phenomenon or thing, the unity of opposites is conditional, temporary and transitory, and hence relative, whereas the struggle of opposites is absolute.” —Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (Feb. 27, 1957), SW 5:392.
UNITY OF THE WORLD
The physical universe is a unified system, consisting of myriad separate material parts which nevertheless interact with each other to various degrees. This unity of the world arises from the fact that these parts can and do interact with each other. They do so through the forces which have been discovered, namely gravity, electro-magnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces, and perhaps also through some additional physical forces yet to be discovered.
It is possible to absurdly exaggerate the unity of the world, however, such as via the mystical notion that “all is one”. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, for example, reality is a unified, eternal, indivisible, unchanging and motionless single entity, and all the movement and interaction between people and things that we seem to see are mere illusions! Of course it is difficult for modern scientific people to understand how such a view could ever have been taken seriously.
Obviously a more dialectical perspective is called for here. There is both unity and difference in the world, both connection and distinction, both interaction and effective non-interaction. The unity of the world consists more in the possibility of occasional exceptional interactions between two different things than it does in actual universal, constant, equipollent, mutual interactions. It may well be that every single particle of matter is connected to every other one through gravitational and/or other forces, but in most cases such connections are inconsequential. The gravitational tug of the planet Neptune has no detectable effect on my fingers in the typing of these words, even though science does currently assume that some such ultra-minute tug actually exists.
Any coherent notion of cause and effect requires such a dialectical view of the unity of the world.
The world is a unity in another important way as well: there are not two separate, unconnected aspects to it, the physical and the mental (or “spiritual”); instead, mental phenomena such as ideas, thoughts or memories, are merely special ways of looking at aspects of certainly highly organized complexes of matter (e.g., brains) and their functions and processes. (See: MONISM)
“The real unity of the world consists in its materiality...” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:41.
UNITY OF THINKING
See: THINKING JUST ALIKE
UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME
See: GUARANTEED BASIC INCOME
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
A social system within a country that provides health care for everyone through one or another form of nonprofit national health insurance. Most advanced capitalist countries developed such systems under pressure from the masses. The U.S. however, being the most backward capitalist country socially, has never had such a system. Even the current so-called Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), being implemented in 2013-2014, is a pitifully inadequate substitute for a true universal health care system.
The lack of universal health care means the poor health of millions upon millions of people, and the outright deaths of tens of thousands every year in the U.S. This is one of the many forms of continuing capitalist murder of the American people.
“‘[T]he uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the
privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and
baseline health,’ said lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper (of the recent study ‘Health
Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults,’ American Journal of Public Health,
“‘Historically, every other developed nation has achieved universal healthcare through some form of nonprofit national health insurance,’ said study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard and a primary care physician in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ‘Our failure to do so means that all Americans pay higher health care costs, and 45,000 pay with their lives [each year].’...
“‘Absent the $400 billion in savings you could get from single payer, universal coverage is unaffordable. Politicians in Washington are protecting insurance profits while sacrificing American lives.’
“‘Now one American dies every 12 minutes,’ said study co-author Dr. David Himmelstein.
“‘California leads the nation with 5,302 deaths due to lack of health insurance per year. Texas follows closely behind with 4,675 deaths due to lack of health insurance per year. Texas also had the highest rate (in 2005) of uninsured citizens—29.7 percent.’” —From Ralph Nader, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism (2011); original source: Corporate Crime Reporter, Sept. 21, 2009.
UNIVERSAL RIGHTS OF MAN, The
The principles in the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen” which was proclaimed during the time of the great French Revolution of 1789-93.
The legal right of every adult person, male or female, and regardless of their race, ethnicity, language, and level of wealth, to vote in elections. Historically it has been a long and hard struggle to achieve something approaching universal suffrage under capitalism. In the United States at first only free white males with significant levels of property were allowed to vote, and it has taken centuries of struggle to extend this to its present still incomplete status. For example in some states, most notably in the American Southeast, many African-Americans are still kept from voting under one pretext or another.
However, it must also be clearly recognized that even genuine and complete universal suffrage would not by itself mean that true and genuine democracy exists; certainly not under capitalism! Elections are still rigged by the overriding power of wealth and the virtually complete control of information and ideas by the media owned by the bourgeoisie. Even elections in which everyone can vote are still essentially fraudulent in capitalist society.
“We must also note that Engels is most explicit in calling universal suffrage an instrument of bourgeois rule.... The petty-bourgeois democrats, such as our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and also their twin brothers, all the social-chauvinists and opportunists of Western Europe ... themselves share, and instill into the minds of the people, the false notion that universal suffrage ‘in the present-day state’ is really capable of revealing the will of the majority of the working people and of securing its realization.” —Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (August-September 1917), LCW 25:393-4.
“UNIVERSALITY” OF PEOPLE’S WAR
See: PEOPLE’S WAR—As a “Universal” Revolutionary Strategy
UNIVERSALS (vs. PARTICULARS or INDIVIDUALS) [Philosophy]
Universals are abstractions (abstract concepts), which are usually generalizations derived from particulars (such as individual material things) which have a physical existence in the world.
There is a long tradition in idealist philosophy, going back at least to Plato, in arguing that in addition to the specific material objects in the world there also actually exist (perhaps even in some “deeper” sense!) abstract entities which embody the “idea” or “form” of a given sort of object. For example, according to this idealist conception, in addition to all the actual chairs in the world there also exists the idea of “chair” (or “chairness”) which is just as much a part of reality as are all the specific chairs. But while that idealist conception that ideas are on an existential (or ontological) par with material objects is total nonsense, it is a fact that we do have the abstract concept of a chair, and that abstract concept is different from (and not identical to) any specific chair. (If some particular chair that is extremely similar to our concept of a chair is destroyed, for example, our concept of a chair is still not in any way destroyed.)
Philosophers, therefore, have long discussed the relationship between universals and particulars (or individual things), and idealist and metaphysical philosophers have often been very confused and mystified by this relationship. The central difficulty here comes from an inadequate understanding and analysis of what abstraction is. However, to deeply understand the nature of abstraction itself, one must apply materialist dialectics. It appears to me that Lenin was making an attempt in this direction in the following, though it is not certain that everyone will find this helpful (since the discussion itself is quite abstract):
“To begin with what is the simplest, most ordinary, common, etc., with
any proposition: the leaves of a tree are green; John is a man; Fido is
a dog, etc. Here already we have dialectics (as Hegel’s genius recognized): the
individual is the universal...
[Lenin then quotes a passage in German and Greek about the views of Aristotle on this subject. The English translation of that passage is: “For, of course, one cannot hold the opinion that there can be a house (in general) apart from visible houses.”]
“Consequently, the opposites (the individual is opposed to the universal) are identical: the individual exists only in the connection that leads to the universal. The universal exists only in the individual and through the individual. Every individual is (in one way or another) a universal. Every universal is (a fragment, or an aspect, or the essence of) an individual. Every universal only approximately embraces all the individual objects. Every individual enters incompletely into the universal, etc., etc. Every individual is connected by thousands of transitions with other kinds of individuals (things, phenomena, processes), etc. Here already we have the elements, the germs, the concepts of necessity, of objective connection in nature, etc. Here already we have the contingent and the necessary, the phenomenon and the essence...” —Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics” (1915), LCW 38:361. [This is from a rough manuscript that Lenin did not have a chance to prepare for publication during his lifetime.]
The sum total of everything that exists considered as a whole. This includes all the matter, all the energy, all the movement and processes of development of this matter and energy, the distribution and types of organization of this matter and energy at different times (such as into galaxies, star systems and planets, and also the apparently quite rare living things), and all the many aspects and characteristics of this matter and energy and of its different types of organization.
See also below, and: “MULTIVERSE”
UNIVERSE — Existence Of
The rather silly question “Why does the Universe exist?” is sometimes raised (such as in introductory philosophy courses at bourgeois universities). Of course it makes sense to ask about why particular things within the Universe exist, that is, why and how such things as stars, planets, oceans and people came into existence via the laws of nature. This amounts to explaining aspects of the multitudinous processes of development occuring within the Universe. If—as currently seems to be true—there are overall processes of development for the Universe as a whole, covering not just local events such as the creation and death of individual stars, but also such things as the hypothesized “Big Bang” and periods before and after it, including possible periods before galaxies and stars existed, the current galactic era, and so forth, then we can also reasonably ask for explanations for why these large scale changes occur—also in terms of the scientific laws we discover.
But it makes no sense at all to ask “Why does anything at all exist?” or “Why is there something rather than nothing?” What could possibly count as a rational, scientific answer to questions like these?! And that, no doubt, is just the point. Those people who get hung up on bizarre philosophical questions like this are really looking for a religious answer, or something like one. Since the Universe exists, somebody or some mysterious force must have “created it”, they think. I.e., “God”.
However, “God” is no answer at all! If everything requires an explanation, then the (supposed) existence of God also requires an explanation. We have merely pushed the question back one stage. And if some very general abstract aspects of reality require no explanation, why not just say that the Universe itself is one of them rather than inventing this additional complication of “God”?! (And this would be true whether or not—as is actually the case—the very concept of “God” itself, as a supposed “incorporeal mind”, is quite scientifically incoherent! It is based on complete ignorance of what a mind actually is: i.e., a set of functional characteristics of certain special highly complex organizations of matter capable of modeling aspects of reality.)
It is the laws of development within the Universe which we gradually discover through scientific investigation which allow us to explain anything whatsoever about reality. And thus it makes no sense to try to explain anything “beyond what happens within the Universe”, either by means of the laws we discover operating within the Universe or in any other imagined way. —S.H.
“Sometimes [people] express their difficulty by saying, ‘But look, the fact is that
the Universe does exist, and there must be some explanation of this fact—it can’t be
just an accident that it exists.’ Or they may ask what sustains the existence of the
Universe, whether finite or infinite in age, or why the Universe is just the particular age that it
“These questions raise some different points, although much of what has been said is relevant. They are really of the form, Why does the Universe exist? (or, Why has it existed for just so long?), rather than of the form, Where does the Universe come from? We must, of course, begin by asking ourselves whether the questions are proper questions at all. The question, Why does the Universe exist? looks like the question, Why does the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study exist? That is, it asks for the purpose or function of a complex entity. Now it is perfectly clear that the purpose or function of the Universe cannot come from its role in some external agent’s plans, since there can be no such agent. Does it make sense to talk of a purpose or function conferred on the Universe by some part of it, perhaps an intelligent spiritual part of it?
“Some believers in gods do see the Universe as part of the gods’ plan. But our previous discussion points up the inadequacies of this kind of suggestion since it merely raises the corresponding problem about the gods: Why do the gods exist? ... So the introduction of the divine is just as useless here as before. We should see at once that there is no hope of an ‘ultimate’ answer to the question, Why does the Universe exist? in terms of the plans of any entity....
“Does this mean that the Universe exists by accident, by chance? Not at all: that is a false dilemma. We have argued the Univere cannot be part of a plan, but it does not follow that its existence is a chance affair. For processes within the Universe, these might be said to be the only alternatives, but the Universe itself is not a process within the Universe. It is not the kind of entity which is created or appears, and hence the possible ways in which this might happen are not covered by the alternatives of ‘deliberately planned’ and ‘accidentally occurring.’ Neither alternative can be given any meaning for the Universe as a whole.”
—Michael Scriven, Primary Philosophy (1966), pp. 122-123. Although a bourgeois philosopher, Scriven devotes a lot of attention to criticizing religious notions in philosophy.
UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES PREVENTION ACT (UAPA)
A fascist law passed by the central government of India in 2008 which gives the police and other authorities almost a completely free hand to suppress ideas and social movements which the ruling class dislikes. It is especially aimed at the revolutionary movement, and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in particular.
For further information see the Indian Fascism page on BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET at: https://www.bannedthought.net/India/Fascism/index.htm
[To be added...]
See also: PRODUCTIVE LABOR
UNSECURED LOAN (or DEBT)
See also: SECURED LOAN
The outrageously insulting name formerly used for the lowest social caste in the Hindu social system in India. They are now properly referred to as the Dalits, the name they have chosen for themselves.
See also: “HARIJANS”
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