BRADLEY, F. H. [Francis Herbert] (1846-1924)
Reactionary English philosopher who was an absolute idealist.
See also: NEUROPLASTICITY
The supposed ability to forceably change the thinking and political outlook of a human being
via psychological manipulation, drugs (such as LSD), torture, and the like. There is little,
if any, evidence that this can actually be successfully done. However, the American
CIA has put tremendous effort into trying to find ways to do so.
Of course there are some actual ways to get people to change their minds, and even—over time—to change their whole worldview. Some of these methods can be very positive and admirable, such as education and reasoned argument to promote the real interests of the people. But many other methods are quite the opposite, such as making it clear to people that it is in their own individual interests to adopt views which agree with their superiors or oppressive rulers, even if they really don’t want to. Even “education”, if it is in reality a lying indoctrination which goes against the interests of the people, can be a very sinister thing indeed.
It is an elementary principle of historical materialism that the prevailing ideas in society, and even of the masses most of the time, are those which have been indoctrinated into them by the exploiting ruling class. In this sense, bourgeois education, and the other means of bourgeois indoctrination, can very appropriately be viewed as brainwashing—or, as some have more appropriately put it—brain dirtying!
BRAHMAGUPTA (c. 598 C.E.-died after 665 C.E.)
Great Indian mathematician and astronomer. He was the first to give rules for computing with zero. He also seems to be the first person in history to understand that there is this attractive force, gravity, which he named in Sanskrit gruhtvaakarshan in his book Brahmasphutasiddhanta (dated 628 C.E.).
BRAUN, Otto (1900-1974)
German-born Comintern advisor to the Communist Party of China from 1933 to 1937, using the name Li De (or Li Te, old style). He is possibly the only foreign participant to complete the Red Army’s famous Long March. However, his work in China was overall of a highly negative character. He came to China with no knowledge of Chinese society and history, nor of the Chinese language, and never did correctly understand the nature of the Chinese revolution. He was an advisor to Bo Gu (Po Ku), a leader of the dogmatic faction of the CCP leadership trained in Moscow, which is most often referred to as the “28 Bolsheviks”.
In 1934 Braun/Li De, despite his ignorance of Chinese conditions, was appointed by the Comintern as military commander of the early First Front Army (with Bo Gu and Zhou Enlai as his subordinates in military matters). He had that Army attack head-on the much larger and better equipped Guomindang army, which resulted in huge losses. The strength of the First Front Army fell from 86,000 to just 25,000 within the space of one year. It is said that most of the Chinese Communists also hated Li De for his arrogance, hot temper, and constant womanizing.
The Chinese Red Army was then forced by these defeats to embark on the epic Long March to northern China. Along the way, at the Zunyi Conference in 1935, Mao and his supporters expressed their strong opposition to Braun, Bo Gu, and their faction. The disasters which came from the Comintern and “28 Bolshevik” line (including the earlier disasters of the 1920s which were also due to bad advice from the Comintern) led the CCP to accept Mao as its leader instead, and to adopt his military line of People’s War. From that point on the Comintern was no longer in control of the Red armies in China, nor of the Chinese Revolution as a whole.
Otto Braun/Li De remained in China until 1939, however, as a Comintern advisor. But the CCP had learned the hard way to take most of his advice with a grain of salt. Braun returned to the Soviet Union, and after World War II he returned to (East) Germany for the first time in three decades. There he did translation work of Russian writings (including some of Lenin’s) into German. He popped up again as a notorious figure during the Sino-Soviet Split, when he penned anti-Mao propaganda for the revisionists. This was the first time that it became publicly known that Otto Braun and Li De were one-in-the-same person. In earlier decades Otto Braun was clearly guilty of dangerous dogmatism and serious political errors. But later in life he compounded all that by becoming an outright revisionist renegade.
The theory, found at various places in the writings of Marx and Engels and less frequently in later Marxists, that capitalist economic crises will get worse and worse, and eventually lead to a breakdown of the whole capitalist system. Of course this does not imply that the system will break down regardless of what the working class and masses do! It tacitly assumes that really bad economic conditions, along with the other miseries of capitalism (such as war), will lead the proletariat to take conscious revolutionary action to overthrow the capitalists and take power itself.
The breakdown theory was totally rejected by revisionists, starting with Eduard Bernstein, and also by “centrists”. But during long periods of general economic stability and more or less short and mild recessions, the theory has also often been rejected by various Marxist revolutionaries. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, however, the breakdown theory came back in vogue, often in the form of the theory of the General Crisis of Capitalism. During the long post-World War II boom, and even during the decades of the Long Slowdown beginning in the early 1970s, the breakdown theory once again fell into disrepute among most Marxists. But starting in 2008, with many Marxists beginning to recognize the possibility or even certainty of a new depression on the horizon, one which some of us predict will be even worse and much more prolonged than that of the 1930s, the breakdown theory is once again starting to make a lot of sense.
BRECHT, Bertolt [1898-1956]
Famous and influential German playwright, poet and writer, strongly influenced by Marxism and the Communist movement of the early 20th century, but it is difficult to place him on the Left political spectrum. At times he seemed to be a genuine Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, but much of the time he seemed to trying to make peace with bourgeois intellectualism or even revisionism, as with his return to the German Democratic Republic [East Germany] after World War II. Moreover, his plays—though many are honored, especially in Left circles—often do not have a clear revolutionary point to them. In many cases they seem to have been written more for disheartened and politically inactive intellectuals than for the struggling masses. Still, there are passages of brilliance in his plays, poems and other works.
Here is the summary introduction from the Wikipedia article on Brecht:
“Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht (10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956), known professionally
as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet. Coming of age during the Weimar
Republic, he had his first successes as a playwright in Munich and moved to Berlin in 1924, where he wrote
The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill and began a life-long collaboration with the composer Hanns
Eisler. Immersed in Marxist thought during this period, he wrote didactic Lehrstücke [modernistic
‘learning-plays’ or ‘teaching-plays’] and became a leading theoretician of epic theatre (which he later
preferred to call ‘dialectical theatre’) and the Verfremdungseffekt [the ‘distancing’ or
“During the Nazi Germany period, Brecht fled his home country, first to Scandinavia, and during World War II to the United States, where he was surveilled by the FBI. After the war he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Returning to East Berlin after the war, he established the theatre company Berliner Ensemble with his wife and long-time collaborator, actress Helene Weigel.” [From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertolt_Brecht (downloaded on May 24, 2022)]
It is interesting that there is nothing about being an actual revolutionary here, or about helping the masses make revolution. But there is always the question as how much is this due to Brecht’s own work and perspective, and how much of it is due to his de facto appropriation by inactive “Leftist” intellectuals. In 1981 the RCP,USA wrote an interesting article in their Revolutionary Worker newspaper entitled “Call to Evaluate the Role of Bertolt Brecht” which is well-worth pondering in this connection still today. (At: https://www.bannedthought.net/USA/RCP/RW/1981/RW091-English-OCR-sm.pdf, page 9.) The article tenatively summed up their take on Brecht at that time this way: “[W]e think that Brecht made some contributions, practically and theoretically grappling with many of the critical problems in creating revolutionary art—but that in order to take what is of use, we need to do some major surgery. In the spirit of rising to meet the challenges of the period of deepening crisis, turmoil and revolutionary possibilities, we are calling for investigation ... on Brecht...” And it is our view, as well, that a balanced and revolutionary MLM appraisal of Bertolt Brecht still remains to be done. The first two sets of such correspondence about Brecht that appeared in subsequent issues of the RW were in: Issue 99 (p. 9) and Issue 104 (p. 15)
BRENTANO, Franz (1838-1917)
Austrian idealist philosopher and psychologist who produced his own metaphysical system, distinct from that of Kant, which was “permeated with the spirit of theism and Catholic scholasticism”. Like Kant’s metaphysics, however, it was a very strongly agnostic theory, which claimed that we cannot know the true nature of reality which lies behind our perceptions. He is famous (or notorious?) for the absurd idealist claim that Wahrnehmung ist Falschnehmung (“perception is misconception”).
Brentano re-introduced the concept of “intentionality” into philosophy from the Medieval Scholastics. However, as with the terminology of other idealist metaphysicians, it is not at all clear what he means by the term exactly, even though it is evidently a key concept for him. In claiming that all mentality is intentional he seems to be saying that mentality orients itself toward some real or imagined object and expresses an attitude towards that object. Brentano was a strong influence on a number of other bourgeois philosophers including Edmund Husserl, as well as on the early development of psychology.
BRENTANO, Lujo (1844-1931)
German bourgeois economist and proponent of “state socialism”; one of the leading champions of “Katheder socialism”. He argued that it is possible to achieve social equality under capitalism through reforms and agreements with the capitalists, and specifically by means of factory legislation and labor unions. He and his followers used this theory to oppose the revolutionary working class movement.
See also below.
[Named after Lujo Brentano (see above).] A liberal reformist doctrine that recognizes “class struggle” but only if it is a non-revolutionary class struggle which is restricted to the goals of reforms within the capitalist system.
“‘Brentanoism’ [is the] bourgeois-liberal theory recognizing the non-revolutionary ‘class’ struggle of the proletariat...” —Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (1918), LCW 28:239.
The peace treaty between Soviet Russia and the German bloc (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria), which was signed on March 3, 1918 at Brest-Litovsk.
“The terms of the treaty were extremely harsh for Soviet Russia; Poland, the whole of the Baltic area and part of Byelorussia came under German control. The Ukraine was separated from the Soviet Republic and converted into a state dependent on Germany. Turkey received Kars, Batum and Ardaghan. In August 1918, Germany forced on Russia a supplementary treaty on economic questions by which the Soviet state had to pay a large indemnity: 1,500 million rubles in gold and bank-notes, and 1,000 million in goods. After the revolution in November 1918 in Germany, which overthrew the monarchical regime, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on November 13 annulled the predatory Brest treaty.” —Note 11 to Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
BRETTON WOODS SYSTEM
The basic post-World War II international monetary system between countries which was agreed upon in 1944 at a conference at Bretton Woods, a resort in New Hampshire, by the Allied capitalist powers who went on to achieve victory in the war. At that time, after a prolonged period of depression and world war, the U.S. held most of the gold bullion in the world, so the foundation of the new system was the U.S. dollar which was pegged to gold. All other currencies of capitalist countries were then fixed against the dollar.
However, over the next quarter century, as the economies of other countries (including the defeated Axis countries of Germany, Japan and Italy) recovered and more rapidly developed than the U.S., the holdings of gold by the U.S. declined rapidly. If nothing was done the U.S. would soon be depleted of gold and the whole international financial system might collapse. In 1971, President Nixon unilaterally abandoned the Bretton Woods system by removing the connection between the U.S. dollar and gold (i.e., by refusing to exchange gold for dollars held by foreign governments anymore). Since the Bretton Woods system collapsed, the currencies of the major capitalist countries have generally had floating exchange rates with each other, although each of the major capitalist-imperialist countries tries to “game the system” (i.e., manipulate things) by having its own central bank buy or sell currencies to advance their own ruling-class interests. Many minor currencies, however, have still been pegged to the dollar, with re-pegging as necessary when the imperialist exploitation of these countries, and consequent financial crises there, leads to a fall in the perceived value of their currencies.
The Bretton Woods conference also led to the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which from the start have primarily served the interests of the major Western imperialist countries, and especially the U.S.
See also: Harry Dexter WHITE
BREZHNEV, Leonid (1906-1982)
The colorless state-capitalist bureaucrat who succeeded Khrushchev as boss of the revisionist Soviet Union in 1964. He held the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death. Corruption grew exponentially in the country during this period and Brezhnev—though well aware of this fact—made no serious effort to stop it. By giving the excuse that no one could live just on their own wages, he even further promoted corruption both among the new bourgeois ruling class and also, to some extent, within the working class!
While the military power of the revisionist USSR grew massively during Brezhnev’s reign, the state-capitalist economy more and more slipped into serious stagnation and crisis. This long-deepening economic crisis eventually undermined the Soviet Union to such an extent that it collapsed completely in 1991. Brezhnev was also responsible for the disastrous social-imperialist invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 that became the equivalent of the U.S. military disaster in Vietnam.
“Brezhnev was Khrushchov’s accomplice in the counter-revolutionary coup d’etat and later replaced him. Brezhnev’s rise to power is, in essence, the continuation of Khrushchov’s counter-revolutionary coup. Brezhnev is Khrushchov the Second.” —From the important article “Leninism or Social-Imperialism? —In Commemoration of the Centenary of the Birth of the Great Lenin”, Peking Review, 1970, #17 (April 24, 1970), online at: https://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1970/PR1970-17.pdf, p. 7.
“Here is a book so dull that a whirling dervish could read himself to sleep with it.... If it were read in the open air, birds would fall stunned from the sky.” —Clive James, beginning a review of Leonid Brezhnev’s memoir.
“Brezhnev’s mother visits her son in the Kremlin soon after his coming to power. When she hears about his fine apartment, his luxurious dacha, his expensive cars, and other material comforts, she says, ‘Leonid, my son, I’m so proud of you, but one thing worries me: What will you do when the communists take over?’” —Joke told by Russian workers during the Brezhnev era. From Robert Strayer, Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? (1998), p. 53.
“During a party meeting, one local official was declaiming on the bright future promised by the next Five-Year Plan. ‘We’ll have more to eat, more cars, better medical facilities, and much improved housing.’ From the back of the room, a worker shouted, ‘So much for you. What about us?’” —Another bitter worker’s joke from the Brezhnev era. Ibid.
“As a rule of thumb 5 per cent of $200,000 will win the help of a senior official below top rank. The same percentage of $2 million and you are dealing with the the permanent secretary. At $20 million enter the minister and senior staff, while a cut from $200 million ‘justifies the serious attention of the head of state’.” —Description of prevailing bribe levels which could be expected by imperialist businessmen operating in Third World countries circa 1993. [Michael Holman, “New Group Targets the Roots of Corruption”, Financial Times, May 5, 1993.]
The term “BRIC” is frequently used, especially in bourgeois business and economic circles, to refer collectively to the following four countries and their economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four countries, and especially China, have been expanding their economies at a fairly rapid pace over the last few decades, which is making them more and more important in the world economy. Russia, though, has been the weakest of the four economies (especially since the price of oil dropped down from its recent peak in the mid-2000s).
The four BRIC countries (see above) plus South Africa. This term is sometimes used as informal shorthand for the few most rapidly developing countries which are (or once were) considered to be part of the “Third World”. The South African economy is distinctly weaker than the others here, and it was included mostly for political reasons—i.e., to have a country from Africa represented in the group.
In addition to being used in an informal sense to refer to these five countries, BRICS is also a formal organization of these countries, which meets from time to time and engages in cooperative economic action. It has established its own development bank, the NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK which issues loans for economic development to its member countries and to other countries, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
See: NUCLEAR WEAPONS—First Use Policy
See also: COMPRADOR BOURGEOISIE—Unreliability Of [Alfred McCoy quote]
BRITISH-AMERICAN RELATIONSHIP — In World War II
After the Pearl Harbor attack and once the United States entered World War II against both Japan and Nazi Germany, Britain and the U.S. of course had in general a very close and cooperative working relationship. Nevertheless, as separate imperialist powers they also had their own conflicting and competing interests, and thus they even spied on each other and schemed against each other, especially with an eye toward their respective spheres of control in the world after the war was over. During the War the Marxist-Keynesian economist Paul Sweezy was part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecesser to the CIA, and part of his job during the war, along with a number of other OSS members, was to spy on Britain and British citizens in the U.S.! Meanwhile, the British had an extensive spy operation within the U.S. headed by Canadian-born agent William Stephenson (who eventually became famous as the “Man Called Intrepid”). Most of what Stephenson did during the war was to search out Nazi agents and pro-Nazi economic collaborators within the U.S. and may have even assassinated some of them. But some of his spying operation was also directed against the U.S. itself. “At one point, Stephenson’s Rockefeller Center operation—which was tucked away under the colorless name British Security Coordination—grew to as many as three thousand employees. It was a remarkably ambitious covert enterprise, particularly considering that England was operating on friendly soil.” [David Talbot, Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (2015), p. 21.]
See: THINK TANK
BROUSSE, Paul (1844-1912)
French petty-bourgeois socialist who led an opportunist faction known as the Possibilists in the late 19th century.
BROWDER, Earl (1891-1973)
A revisionist leader of the Communist Party USA, who was the General Secretary of the Party from 1930 to 1945, and was finally expelled in 1946.
During the 1930s Browder enthusiastically embraced the “popular front” tactic promoted by the Comintern, and interpreted this to mean open support for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal. He and the CPUSA merely pushed for additional reforms within this framework. Browder made one or more secret trips to the Soviet Union during that decade, and in 1940 was sent to prison for having used a false passport. Roosevelt pardoned him after 14 months when the U.S. entered World War II and the Soviet Union became its ally. During the war Browder became the leading champion of Rightist and revisionist ideas within the Party. Browder often seemed far more enthusiastic about the 1776 American bourgeois revolution than about any future socialist revolution:
“[Browder] argued that the Declaration of Independence foreshadowed the Communist Manifesto and extolled Jefferson and Lincoln as exemplars of American radicalism. The party played ‘Yankee Doodle’ at its meetings, decked its platforms in the Stars and Stripes, and adopted the slogan: ‘Communism is 20th-Century Americanism.’” —From a book review by the bourgeois writer Michael J. Ybarra, Washington Monthly, July-August, 1997.
From December 1943 onward Browder advocated a revisionist-capitulationist line in a number
of speeches and articles and in April 1944 published his book Teheran: Our Path in War and
Peace which served as his overall Rightist programme. Disagreeing with Lenin’s
characterization of imperialism as monopolistic, decadent and moribund capitalism, Browder
claimed that U.S. capitalism “retains some of the characteristics of a young capitalism”
and that there was a “common interest” between the proletariat and the big bourgeoisie in the
U.S. On this basis he pleaded for the safeguarding of the system of giant monopoly capitalist
corporations and even suggested that this class conciliation might put an end to economic
crises! In May 1944, in a despicable act of liquidationism, Browder presided over the formal
dissolution of the Communist Party and its reconstitution as a non-Party organization, the
Communist Political Association. Long before Khrushchev, Browder also declared that communism
and capitalism could peacefully co-exist.
Although there was some disgruntlement within the CPUSA/CPA about Browder’s views and actions, it took foreign criticism to get rid of him. In 1945, Jacques Duclos, a prominent leader of the Communist Party of France, and probably acting at the behest of Stalin, published an article criticizing Browder and Browderism. A powerful opposition to Browder then developed under the leadership of William Z. Foster. In June 1945 the CPA passed a resolution denouncing Browder’s political line, and in July of that year a special national convention re-established the CPUSA with Foster as Party Chairman. Browder was expelled from the Party in February 1946 because he persisted in his stand, and because he openly supported the imperialist policies of the Truman Administration and engaged in factional activity within the Party.
Outside the Party, Browder continued to champion the same ultra-revisionist line and proudly proclaimed that “the American Communists had thrived as champions of domestic reform” while he was in charge. Browder was correct in saying that the CPUSA was dominated by Moscow, but the main reason he objected to this was that he wanted an even more revisionist-capitulationist political line. Curiously enough, Browder had apparently facilitated Soviet spying in the U.S., and even his own sister was a Soviet spy in Europe. Despite his later complaints, he seems to have had much more loyalty toward the Soviet Union than he did toward the central principles of Marxism-Leninism.
BRUNO, Giordano (1548-1600)
Italian philosopher and natural scientist who was burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for holding scientific views which went against Church doctrine.
“Italian philosopher of the Renaissance who exhibited great courage and persistence in his struggle for a new view of the world against the tyranny of the church and the backwardness of scholastic philosophy. Bruno built upon the scientific teachings of Copernicus, developing the view that the sun is not stationary, but changes its position in relation to the stars, and that the atmosphere of the earth revolves along with that body. Bruno’s valuable extension of Copernicus’s work was bitterly fought by the religious authorities. Bruno’s leading idea, which has played a very significant part in the development of a scientific view of the cosmos, is the conception of the universe as a limitless aggregate of worlds, or solar and planetary systems, of which ours is one. Bruno developed the notion of an evolution of worlds and the significant belief that there were constant geological changes taking place on our earth. Trained in early life as a Dominican monk, he was excommunicated by the church. He was regarded as a pantheist, as one who identifies God with nature. His opposition to religious dogmas and his advocacy of scientific conceptions brought him into sharp conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities who used their power to burn him at the stake after eight years of imprisonment. His chief works are On Cause, Principle and Unity and On the Infinite Universe and the Worlds.” —The Handbook of Philosophy, ed. and adapted by Howard Selsam (1949), based on the Short Philosophic Dictionary, by M. Rosenthal and P. Yudin.
BRYAN, William Jennings (1860-1925)
American populist politician of the Democratic Party who sought (unsuccessfully of course) to reform American capitalist society on behalf of farmers and ordinary people. He was a pacifist who resigned as Secretary of State as President Woodrow Wilson was leading the United States into World War I. He was also something of a religious fanatic who supported prohibition and opposed Darwinism and science in general when it conflicted with the Bible. Today he is mostly remembered for his reactionary role in the infamous Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925.
“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests up on them.” —William Jennings Bryan, an excerpt from his famous “Cross of Gold” speech (as it was informally known) on Feb. 9, 1896; included in: Speeches of William Jennings Bryan (NY: 1909), pp. 238-250. [Merely opposing the ridiculous “Trickle Down Theory” does not make you a true champion of the people! —Ed.]
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