“Composed around 300 BCE, The Elements is arguably the most influential mathematical text in history. But not because it presented new and original results. The Elements was based on the work of earlier generations of geometers, and most of its results were likely well known to practicing mathematicians. What was revolutionary about Euclid’s work was its systematic and rigorous method. It begins with a series of definitions and postulates that are so simple as to be self-evidently true. According to one definition, ‘A figure is that which is contained by any boundary or boundaries’; according to one postulate, ‘all right angles are equal to one another’; and so on. From these seemingly trivial beginnings, Euclid moves step by step to demonstrate increasingly complex results: that the base angles of an isosceles triangle are equal; that in a right triangle, the sum of the squares of the two sides containing the right angle is equal to the square of the third side (the Pythagorean theorem); that in a circle, the angles in the same segment are all equal to one another; and so on. At each step, Euclid does not just argue that his result is plausible or likely, but demonstrates that it is absolutely true and cannot be otherwise. In this manner, layer by layer, Euclid constructs an edifice of mathematical truth, composed of interconnected and unshakably true propositions, each dependent on the ones that precede it.” —Amir Alexander, Infinitesimal (2014), p. 65.
See: UNIFIED COMBATANT COMMAND
See also: NATIVIST MOVEMENT
The money used in 17 of the 27 countries which are members of the European Union. The EU agreed to form a monetary union in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. In 1999 the Euro became a legal currency in many of the EU countries, and in 2002 banknotes and coins denominated in Euros were introduced and made the sole legal currency in these countries. Britain and Sweden have decided not to switch to the Euro, and 8 other EU countries have not yet met the financial requirements to begin using the Euro. The symbol for the Euro is: €
With the development of the European Sovereign Debt Crisis starting in 2009, which has been most severe and intractable in the Euro zone, major worries about the long-term success of the Euro are being raised. As has been frequently noted, a successful monetary union by countries most likely requires a fairly high degree of political and governmental budgetary unity.
The portion of the European Union in which the Euro currency has been adopted. As of 2011, that means 17 EU countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
EUROCENTRISM AND MARXISM
“Postmodernists have sometimes accused Marxism of being Eurocentric,
seeking to impose its own white, rationalist Western values on very different sectors
of the planet. Marx was certainly a European, as we can tell from his burning interest
in political emancipation. Emancipatory traditions of thought mark the history of
Europe, just as the practice of slavery does. ...
“There is no doubt that Marx’s work is limited by his social conditions. Indeed, if his own thought is valid, it could scarcely be otherwise. He was a middle-class European intellectual. But not many middle-class European intellectuals called for the overthrow of empire or the emancipation of factory workers. Indeed, a great many colonial intellectuals did not. Besides, it seems a touch patronizing to suggest that the whole brave band of anticolonial leaders who took up Marx’s ideas, from James Connolly to C.L.R. James, were simply the deluded victims of Western Enlightenment. That mighty campaign for freedom, reason and progress, which sprang from the heart of middle-class [bourgeois] eighteenth-century Europe, was both an enthralling liberation from [feudal] tyranny and a subtle form of despotism in itself; and it was Marx above all who made us aware of this contradiction. He defended the great bourgeois ideals of freedom, reason and progress, but wanted to know why they tended to betray themselves whenever they were put into practice. He was thus a critic of the Enlightenment—but like all the most effective forms of critique, his was from the inside. He was both its firm apologist and ferocious antagonist.” —Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right (2011), pp. 223-225.
A bank deposit denominated in U.S. dollars but held in a bank outside of the U.S., especially in Europe. Many Eurodollars originally came into existence because U.S. corporate holders of U.S. dollars abroad did not want to send the money back to their U.S. headquarters where they would be taxed by the U.S. government.
EUROPE — Current Economic Crisis In
The world economic crisis, which took a turn for the worse with the world financial crisis of 2008-2009, is still continuing to develop. This is especially the case in Europe as well as the U.S. and Japan. The chart at the right from 2012 shows the recent trends for falling GDP and rising unemployment in five of the most seriously afflicted European countries.
[More to be added.]
A general name for the railroad connections between Europe and China. As of February 2021 China’s trade with Europe now exceeds China’s trade with the United States, and China is now the European bloc’s largest trading partner. A large and growing part of that trade now takes place by rail.
“China’s trade with Europe is being driven by the success of projects such as the
Belt and Road Initiative’s Europe-China Railway, which has
connected the Eurasian landmass with a vast freight network that has cut journey times dramatically and
proved a faster and more competitive means than traditional shipping routes.
“Europe and China are far apart. Even if located on the same land mass, they sit roughly 8,210 km apart and face different oceans. The journey by sea is even longer, as sailors must first navigate through the Malacca Straits, the Indian subcontinent and of course up through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, to reach European ports, which is why Greece and Italy have been playing such a prominent role in Europe-China commerce.
“However, the game is now changing. One of the most significant projects of the Belt and Road Initiative has been the construction of the ‘Europe-China’ railway, a single route which runs all the way from Zhejiang on China’s eastern coast, through Xi’an, across Russia, and across Europe into Germany, with additional routes stretching as far west as Portugal and even across the English Channel to Britain, allowing goods to come in a matter of days, as opposed to months.
“Suddenly Eurasia has changed from being an obstacle to something far more convenient. The railway, formally commenced in 2017, has gained traction year upon year. The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be the decisive ‘gamechanger,’ however, enabling the railway to finally establish itself and sustain competitive advantage. With European countries having a high demand for medical supplies throughout 2020 on an urgent basis, shipping proved to be no use especially due to the hazards the virus brought to it, and as a result the Europe-China railway quickly generated huge demand due to its efficiency and affordability. As the Global Times noted: ‘A record 12,400 China-Europe freight train trips were made in 2020, up 50% from the previous year.’
“... [T]he European Union has not engaged in a policy of ‘decoupling’ in the way America has against China while pursuing policies designed to disrupt or discourage trade wholesale, hence EU-China bilateral trade has been able to grow.... Given this, the surge of Europe-China trade is a sign of the times. It is firstly a sign of the Belt and Road Initiative’s success in integrating a [Eurasian] continent and consolidating more efficient and effective supply chains, but it is also secondly a demonstration that political stability, a sound handling of COVID-19 and a multilateral foreign policy deliver the most cohesive results. The EU and China are the world’s two largest single markets, and will continue to mutually benefit from each other on a grand scale.”
—Tom Fowdy, a British political and international relations analyst, “Why China-Europe Trade is Booming”, Feb. 22, 2021, online at: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2021-02/22/content_77233490.htm
EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY
A bailout fund set up by European Union governments using the Euro currency (i.e., the Euro Zone) for the purpose of bailing out governments, and the major banks to whom they owe money, and to thus maintain the existence of the Euro monetary union. The goal is to prevent any government using the Euro from going into default on its debts.
At present [Oct. 2011] the fund has available €440 billion ($606 billion). This amount is probably large enough to deal with one or two smaller countries such as Greece or Portugal. However, it has become obvious that this amount is grossly insufficient to bail out all the countries now on the edge of default, especially big countries like Italy. Thus these European governments are now desperately trying to find a way to expand the EFSF to the range of €750 billion to €1.25 trillion. It is far from obvious that this amount can be raised, or that it will be enough to establish more than just a temporary stabilization even if it is raised.
See also: EUROPEAN SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS entry below.
EUROPEAN REVOLUTION OF 1848
See: REVOLUTION OF 1848
EUROPEAN SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS (2009-?)
A slowly developing but very serious and prolonged financial crisis of the nations of Europe, especially in the Euro zone. It is the result of the enormous and ever-growing debts their governments and banks have accumulated. This crisis first arose in 2009 as one important aspect of the worldwide capitalist financial crisis of 2008-2009 which developed during the “Great Recession”. And all of this, in turn, is but one chapter in the string of financial crises arising out of the current world overproduction crisis. Although proclaimed as over and resolved on numerous occasions, this European sovereign debt crisis keeps arising anew.
A “sovereign debt crisis” is one where a national government has borrowed too much money, risks defaulting on the loans it has already received, and is thus unable to easily borrow more. In most cases in recent times, these loans are in the form of government bonds sold to private banks and the wealthy general public, or else in the form of more direct loans from private banks or from other governments. But in a situation where governments such as Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy (and others) have borrowed so much money from banks, it is not only those countries which are in bad financial shape, but also the banks themselves who may never get their money back. This puts the entire capitalist financial system of Europe at risk of collapse. And this in turn would have extremely serious repercussions for the United States and the whole world capitalist system.
In the spring of 2010 the European Union and the International Monetary Fund bailed out the Greek government with €110 billion ($150 billion) and set up a further contingency fund of €500 billion ($680 billion). (It should be well understood, however, that the bailout of governments such as Greece really means the bailout of the private banks and investors to whom the governments owe the money.) This bailout only reassured the capitalist bond markets for a short time. The austerity measures (cutbacks in government services and employment) forced on Greece, Ireland and Portugal soon led to further declines in those economies, and to a new round of the debt crisis.
By the spring of 2011 this led to the collapse of governments in Ireland and Portugal, and unrest in Spain. Greece needed a second bailout, and interest rates for government bonds began to rise steeply in Spain and Italy. (Bonds which are perceived as riskier demand higher interest rates.) The European Central Bank [ECB] began buying large amounts of Spanish and Italian bonds, in an attempt to reassure rich investors and to keep interest rates down. In July Greece received its second bailout (of $157 billion) and was allowed a small reduction in the amount of debt it owed. The ECB also expanded the funding and capability of the EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY, the fund which it had set up to prop up governments in danger of default.
In September 2011 a new round of assurances and bailouts was arranged for Greece and other weak European economies, which eased the acuteness of the crisis only for a moment. Everyone knows that this overall debt crisis is by no means over. European politicians have recently been discussing the necessity to create a stronger and more centralized European government, something along the lines of a “United States of Europe”, to stabilize the Euro zone and bring the European sovereign debt crisis to a real end. But first, even such a new political union can not achieve this result, and second, the prospects for building such a stronger political union in Europe are quite dismal at the present time.
[Some of the information here is taken from the Wikipedia.]
The question which Socrates asks of Euthyphro in Plato’s dialogue of that name: “Is the pious or holy beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved by the gods?” Often the question is rephrased in terms of morality or right or wrong instead of piety, and it is also frequently adapted to the modern predilection for monotheism: “Is some action good just because God says that it is, or does God say that it is good because it is actually good independently of God’s whims?”
Of course for those of us who do not believe in God or gods there is no puzzle here at all, and the question just seems primitive and silly. But for those who do believe in one or more gods, and who furthermore have been indoctrinated to believe that piety and morality are only what some god says they are, there are indeed some worries here. Those who believe that God determines what is good have to admit, if they are logically consistent, that if God had said that rape, mass murder and genocide were good then they would really be good! This seems to be distressing to many religious people (or at least for those few who ever think about this problem). On the other hand, if God only approves of what is already independenly good, then all we need to do is think about what is actually good in various situations. That is, God and religion are completely unnecessary to be good and for morality in general. This also distresses the religious, who have been indoctrinated to believe otherwise! This is why the Euthyphro Dilemma is actually considered to be a worrisome conundrum for religious people (at least for those few of them who ever seriously examine their own ideas).
For Marxists there are no “dilemmas” of this sort. We do not ascribe right and wrong to the dictates of any god, but rather simply to that which is in accordance with the common, collective interests of the people, and in class society, to that which is in accordance with the interests of the working class and the masses. For us morality is straightforward: it is that which benefits the people. (See: CLASS INTEREST THEORY OF ETHICS )
See also: SINGULAR EVENT
A mercenary army in China in the years 1860-64, originally composed mostly of foreigners but later mostly of Chinese of peasant origin, which was funded by and allied to the imperial army of the Qing Dynasty of China. It was quite small, with only about 5,000 men at its peak size. But it played a prominent role in assisting the imperial Chinese army in suppressing the massive Taiping Rebellion. This mercenary army was founded by the American soldier of fortune Frederick Townsend Ward who established it as probably the most modern army in China in terms of training, weaponry and tactics. After Ward’s death, this army was led by the British imperialist adventurer Charles George Gordon (better known as “Chinese” Gordon).
The forcible ejection of people from their apartments or houses, generally because they cannot afford to pay the rent or mortgage. This is a vastly more common event in even rich countries like the U.S. than is generally acknowledged. And as the current capitalist economic crisis worsens overall, and people are losing their jobs or being forced to take much lower-paying jobs if they can find them, the number of evictions is rising rapidly.
See also: LANDLORD
“That low-income families move often is well known. Why they
do is a question that has puzzled researchers and policymakers because they have
overlooked the frequency of eviction in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Between 2009 and
2011, roughly a quarter of all moves undertaken by Milwaukee’s poorest renters were
involuntary. Once you account for those dislocations (eviction, landlord foreclosure),
low-income households move at a similar rate as everyone else. If you study eviction
court records in other cities, you arrive at similarly startling numbers. Jackson County,
Missouri, which includes half of Kansas City, saw 19 formal evictions a day between
2009 and 2013. New York City courts saw almost 80 nonpayment evictions a day in 2012.
That same year, 1 in 9 occupied rental households in Cleveland, and 1 in 14 in Chicago,
were summoned to eviction court. Instability is not inherent to poverty. Poor families
move so much because they are forced to.
“Along with instability, eviction also causes loss. Families lose not only their home, school, and neighborhood but also their possessions: furniture, clothes, books. It takes a good amount of money and time to establish a home. Eviction can erase all that.... Eviction can cause workers to lose their jobs. The likelihood of being laid off is roughly 15 percent higher for workers who have experience an eviction.... Often, evicted families also lose the opportunity to benefit from public housing because Housing Authorities count evictions and unpaid debt as strikes when reviewing applications. And so people who have the greatest need for housing assistance—the rent-burdened and evicted—are systematically denied it.” —Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016), pp. 296-297. [Desmond provides the sources for his information in end notes.]
“Losing your home and possessions and often your job; being swamped
with an eviction record and denied government housing assistance; relocating to
degrading housing in poor and dangerous neighborhoods; and suffering from increased
material hardship, homelessness, depression, and illness—this is eviction’s fallout.
Eviction does not simply drop poor families into a dark valley, a trying yet
relatively brief detour on life’s journey. It fundamentally redirects their way,
casting them onto a different, and much more difficult, path. Eviction is a cause,
not just a condition, of poverty.
“Eviction affects the old and the young, the sick and able-bodied. But for poor women of color and their children, it has become ordinary. Walk into just about any urban housing court in America, and you can see them waiting on hard benches for their cases to be called. Among Milwaukee renters, over 1 in 5 black women report having been evicted in their adult life, compared with 1 in 12 Hispanic women and 1 in 15 white women.” —Matthew Desmond, ibid., pp. 298-299.
See: PROBLEM OF EVIL
The foundation theory of biology, that life has evolved (changed over time) through the means of natural selection acting upon individual organisms which vary somewhat from each other. Those organisms which have inheritable traits which allow them to survive and reproduce more successfully than others of their kind are able to pass those traits on to their descendants. Over time, many such changes lead to the development of new species. Charles Darwin was the primary creator of this theory, which is one of the most important and central ideas in all of science.
Marx and Engels, and all scientific Marxists since them, have accepted and strongly promoted evolutionary science, and have recognized in it a confirmation of dialectical materialist principles. However, some very secondary aspects of traditional conceptions of evolutionary theory have been criticized by Marxists, and especially the false notion that evolutionary change occurs entirely gradually, without any relatively sudden qualitative leaps. (See G.V. Plekhanov’s comments in the entry for DEVELOPMENT. ) Modern evolutionary theory has largely come to agree with Marxism on this point. (See: PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM. )
See also: COOPERATION—In Nature, DARWINISM, EXAPTATION, MISSING LINKS, SCOPES “MONKEY” TRIAL
“The theory of evolution itself is however still in a very early stage, and it therefore cannot be doubted that further research will greatly modify our present conceptions, including strictly Darwinian ones, of the process of the evolution of species.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:69. [Engels proved to be quite correct in this assessment, and the theory of evolution has been greatly changed and extended since his time, especially due to the development of the science of genetics. However, even today there is still more to learn and clarify about the complicated mechanisms of biological evolution. —Ed.]
EVOLUTION — Teaching Of in the United States
Science education has been so poor in the United States that the teaching of the basics of this profoundly important evolutionary science is still far from universal in the public schools, and is very often poorly done even where it is taught. The reason is mostly the widespread religious fanaticism, which though slowly declining, still powerfully impacts education in this scientifically ignorant country.
See also: SCOPES “MONKEY” TRIAL
“When science teacher John Scopes was prosecuted for teaching evolution,
in 1925, evolution was already recognized by science as the explanation for all life on
Earth. That knowledge was kept from students, however, by laws, misinformation, anti-science
bias and fear. A survey of high-school biology teachers conducted in 1939-1940 found that
only half taught evolution. A similar survey conducted in 2007, decades after state laws
banning evolution in schools had been overturned and almost 150 years after On the Origin
of Species, found the same proportion. The people and institutions who felt threatened
by evolution were really good at casting doubt on one of the surest things humans have ever
“There has been some progress.... The National Center for Science Education, which advocates for the teaching of actual science in science class, conducted another survey of high school biology teachers in 2019 and found that the proportion who teach evolution had grown to two thirds.”
—Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief of Scientific American magazine, July 2022 issue, p. 4.
“At least until recently, more Americans believed in the virgin birth of Jesus (66 percent) than in evolution (54 percent).” —Nicholas Kristof, “Americans Are Losing Their Religious Faith”, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2023, National Edition, p. A17.
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