An informal name for the recent intensified stagnation phase of the current world overproduction crisis. This is the phase that followed the Long Slowdown, and which itself will likely soon be followed by a further great intensification of the crisis.
This overall crisis began with the beginning of the Long Slowdown starting around 1973 in the capitalist world. At that point the average rate of growth of GDP in capitalist countries suddenly dropped in half, and has remainded at that lower level (or below) since then. However, starting in Japan in 1991, and then appearing in Europe during the 1990s and the United States (with the “New Economy” recession of 2001) this Long Slowdown was succeeded by the new phase of “in-and-out-of-recession”, with only very weak recoveries in between the recessions. It was Japan that led the way into this new phase of the crisis, in part because of its smaller home market, low fertility rate, and its racist hostility to immigration (which allows a country to expand its economy simply through more rapid population growth). But the rest of the capitalist world has followed along on the same path.
It should be noted that in some advanced capitalist countries, and the U.S. in particular, it has not actually seemed to many people that we are truly in a period of “in-and-out-of-recession”. In fact, according to official GDP statistics, the period between the end of the Great Recession and the major economic collapse in the spring of 2020 which was initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic, was one uninterrupted record-long economic expansion without any recessions at all! However, if you look carefully at this supposedly unbroken expansion you will see that: 1) the first several years of it were actually part of the Great Recession itself; and 2) there have been a series of new systematic distortions (huge exaggerations) in the supposed rate of expansion of GDP in recent decades which have hidden several actual mild recessions! (See: GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT—Validity Of)
At some point, probably relatively soon, this phase of “in-and-out-of-recession” will itself be followed by an even worse phase of the crisis, and most likely a phase that can only be called outright intractable depression. Although it is as yet too early to be absolutely certain, the pandemic-initiated collapse of the U.S. and world economy in the spring of 2020 may itself turn out to mark the beginning of this new depression. It must be remembered that the factor or factors which trigger a major economic crisis are not necessarily the same as the developing underlying contradictions which must inevitably lead to it at some point.
IN MEDIAS RES
[Latin: “in (or into) the middle of things”.] Generally used in scholarly writing to indicate that the discussion of the central topic at issue will begin immediately, and without an introduction or preliminaries.
INCARCERATION RATES (US)
See: PRISON POPULATION—US
See: RICH AND POOR — Income
A tax on the income of individuals or companies. A progressive income tax is one which taxes those with higher incomes at a higher tax rate. In the Communist Manifesto Marx & Engels called for “a sharply progressive system of taxation” as one of a number of means which might prove to be of use in transforming capitalism into socialism. But as they noted, such a transformation—by whatever means—will only be feasible once the revolutionary proletariat achieves full political power. Before then any reforms along the lines of a progressive income tax will soon be undermined or reversed by the ruling bourgeoisie.
“In the final decades of the nineteenth century, leaders of
corporations took huge payouts [from their companies] to establish huge fortunes.
One reaction was the passage of an income tax law in 1910 aimed exclusively at
only the richest Americans. Those richest Americans quickly developed a
counter-strategy to change the new income tax law.
“They succeeded and thereby spread the burden of the income tax across the entire population, which eventually undermined popular support of the income tax.” —Richard D. Wolff, Capitalism Hits the Fan (2010), pp. 23-24.
INDEPENDENT LABOUR PARTY (Britain)
“Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) was founded in Britain
in 1893 under the leadership of James Keir Hardie, Ramsay Macdonald and others. It
claimed itself politically independent of bourgeois parties but, as Lenin said,
‘it was independent only of socialism but very dependent on liberalism’.
“On the outbreak of the world imperialist war of 1914-18 the I.L.P. issued an anti-war manifesto (August 13, 1914). In February 1915 the I.L.P. delegates to the Conference of Socialists from the ‘Entente’ countries held in London supported the social-chauvinist resolution adopted at the Conference. From then on the I.L.P. leaders used pacifist phrases to cover up what was in fact a social-chauvinist position. In 1919, the I.L.P. leadership yielded to the pressure of the leftward-moving rank and file and withdrew from the Second International. In 1921 the I.L.P. joined the so-called Two-and-a-Half International, but when the latter fell to pieces, returned to the Second International. In 1921 the Left wing of the I.L.P. broke away from the Party and joined the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain.” —Note 47, Lenin: SW I (1967).
INDEPENDENT SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GERMANY
[Usually abrieviated by its German initials, USPD.]
“The Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany—a
Centrist party formed in April 1917. The core of the
party was made up of Kautsky’s Labor Commonwealth. The Independents advocated unity
with the declared social-chauvinists, justified and defended them and demanded the
rejection of the class struggle.
“In October 1920 a split took place at the Halle Congress of the party. A large section of it united with the Communist Party in December 1920. Right-wing elements formed a separate party and adopted the old name of Independent Social-Democratic Party; it existed until 1922.” —Note 319, Lenin: SW I (1967).
The view that some (or all) phenomena do not have causes. The opposite of determinism.
See also: FREE WILL
INDIA — Languages Of
It is useful for those of us interested in India and the developing revolution there to have some idea of the complexity of the language situation in that country. The 1961 census recognized 1,652 different languages spoken in India. 122 languages are spoken by more than 10,000 people, and 29 languages are spoken by more than 1 million people. Here are some of the most important languages, together with the number of current speakers, locations, etc.:
|Hindi||Indo-Aryan||422||The “Hindi belt” in
|83||W. Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand,
|74||Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil
Nadu, Maharashtra, Orissa
|72||Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pra-
desh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Goa
|61||Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Pondicherry,
Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra
|52||Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh
Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh
|Closely related to Hindi; also |
widely spoken in Pakistan
Tamil Nadu, Goa
|Also known as Kanarese|
Haryana and Punjab
|Includes numerous |
|33||Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahé,
|Indo-Aryan||29||Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi,
|12||Bihar||Formerly sometimes viewed |
as dialect of Hindi or Bengali
|Santali||Munda||6.5||Chota Nagpur Plateau (Bihar,
Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa)
|Language of the |
|5.5||Jammu and Kashmir|| |
There are two major language families in India, the Indo-Aryan family (a sub-family
of Indo-European), the languages of which are spoken by about 70% of the people, and the
Dravidian family in the southeast part of India, whose languages are spoken by about
22% of the people. The early forms of Indo-Aryan from around 1000 BCE are jointly referred to
as Sanskrit. All the modern Indo-Aryan languages have developed from Sanskrit in the same way
that the Romance languages in Europe have developed from Latin. (Amazingly, there are still
about 50,000 native speakers of Sanskrit in India!) Tamil is the oldest Dravidian language and
has written records dating back as far as the 3rd century BCE. The boundaries of
Indian states are mostly along socio-linguistic lines.
Because of the heritage of British colonialism in India, English is also an important language there, especially among the upper classes and the better educated. There are many English language publications. However, nobody knows for sure just how many people in India speak English and it is probably a very small fraction of the total population. Some estimates put the figure as low as 3%, others as high as 10%.
See also: CONCEIT
“Confucius has been dead for ages and today we have a Communist Party in China, which is surely wiser than Confucius; this goes to show that we can do better without Confucius. As for good people, they are not indispensable either. Would the earth stop turning without them? The earth will go on turning all the same. Things will proceed as usual or perhaps even better.” —Mao, “Speeches at the National Conference of the Communist Party of China: Concluding Speech” (March 31, 1955), SW 5:166.
1. The theory that the rights or interests of the individual are supreme, and are higher than any possible collective rights or interests of groups of people.
2. Allowing individuals to hold their own opinions, live their lives as they choose (providing they don’t harm the interests of others), and so forth. This sense of individualism is generally positive, whereas definition #1 is clearly very wrong.
3. The bourgeois ethical theory that morality is (or should be) based on individual interests (in the first sense above), as in the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
See also below, and: COLLECTIVISM
“Man becomes individualized only through the process of history. Originally he is a species being, a tribal being, a heard animal—though by no means as a zoon politicon in the political sense.” —Marx, Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58, III. Chapter on Capital, Sect. 2; MECW 28:420. [In the last phrase here Marx is saying that human beings were not originally “political animals” in Aristotle’s sense of being citizens of a town or city. (See end note 11 in MECW 28:544.)]
INDIVIDUALISM — Within a Revolutionary Party
There are two opposite ways in which a revolutionary party can go wrong with respect to the level of individualism allowed to its members: too much, or too little.
There is way too much individualism being allowed if party members flout the requirements of democratic centralism, if they refuse to carry out the tasks the party assigns them, or if they consciously fail to take the political and action line of the party to the masses. On the other hand, if the party demands that all members change their own personal views about issues to be completely identical with those of the leadership of the party, that would be an example of not allowing each member to think for him or herself; it would be a very wrong violation of an important individual right (and duty!) of every party member to hold to their own views while they nevertheless obey all the requirements of democratic centralism.
“In addition to establishing the [Jesuit] order’s guiding principles,
Ignatius [of Loyola] also put in place the mechanisms that would turn those principles
into reality. The greatest challenge, he recognized, was to create a body of men who
would be unquestioningly committed to the Society and its goals, and willing to dedicate
their entire lives to both. Even a brilliant and highly moral individual might be rejected
if the selection committee determined that he was overly individualistic and therefore
unsuited to life in a disciplined collective.” —Amir Alexander, Infinitesimal
(2014), p. 38.
[The Jesuit order of religious fanatics should not be compared to any genuine communist party! However, that last sentence reflects a fact about who might make a good member of a revolutionary party as well. Yes, party members have a right to hold to their own views; but they also have a duty to follow the rules of democratic centralism and devote their efforts to serving the people and helping them make revolution. If they are too individualistic to be able to do that, then they do not belong in the party. —S.H.]
See: ABSURDITIES [Voltaire quote]
INDONESIA — Military Coup in 1965 — Role of Foreign Imperialism
The U.S. and British imperialists played major roles in encouraging, organizing, supporting, and helping to give a propaganda cover to the murderous military coup in Indonesia in 1965. [More to be added... ]
“In 1990, Kathy Kadane, an American agency journalist, made her name
when she revealed that in 1965 CIA officers had passed death sentences on five thousand
members of the the Indonesian Communist Party, the PKI, by handing their names to the
insurgent generals.... Britain was no less involved than the US in the coup against
Achmad Sukarno, the nationalist Indonesian leader who was willing to work with the PKI....
“On 5 October 1965, as the massacres began, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, Britain’s Ambassador in Jakarta, told the Foreign Office: ‘I have never concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change.’ On the following day, the Foreign Office in London replied: ‘The crucial question still remains whether the generals will pluck up enough courage to take decisive action against the PKI.’ Gilchrist shared his superiors’ worry that the generals might be pussy liberals. Although the Army was ‘full of good anti-Communist ideas’, he said, it was ‘reluctant to take, or incapable of taking, effective action in the political field’. The Foreign Office resolved on a strategy. ‘It seems pretty clear that the generals are going to need all the help they can get and accept without being tagged as hopelessly pro-Western, if they are going to be able to gain ascendancy over the Communists. In the short run, and while the present confusion continues, we can hardly go wrong by tacitly backing the generals.’ It is difficult to say how far British ‘help’ extended—the relevant files will be kept secret until well into the next century.” —Nick Cohen, “Benetton Ethics”, London Review of Books, July 2, 1998, p. 7.
The process of reasoning from specific cases to general conclusions. Of course this is sometimes valid, and sometimes invalid. Bourgeois philosophers have struggled (unsuccessfully) to force the valid cases into being considered some kind of deductive reasoning.
See also: NAÏVE INDUCTIVISM, and Philosophical doggerel about the bourgeois philosopher Nelson Goodman for a discussion of what he called the “new riddle of induction”.
The most common term used by Marx for the economic ups and downs in capitalist society over a period typically of 5 to 10 years. [More to be added... ]
See also: ECONOMIC CYCLES
As commonly used in modern capitalism, the term industrial production is the output in these three areas of the economy: manufacturing, mining, and utilities. Mining includes oil and gas drilling and production, and utilities include electricity production and distribution along with natural gas distribution. Manufacturing is the most important component of industrial production, and in the U.S. it makes up around 75% of the total (as of 2010). The Federal Reserve publishes a monthly index of industrial production, which is an important indicator of the health of the entire economy.
A period of accelerated pace of economic change during the early period of capitalism in a country, in which there are rapid technical and mechanical innovations in production, and at the same time the emergence of mass markets for manufactured commodities. The first country to begin the Industrial Revolution was England during the last part of the 1700s, and especially with the mechanization of the cotton and woolen industries around Lancashire, central Scotland, and the western part of Yorkshire. A later phase of the Industrial Revolution involved the mechanization of heavier industries, such as iron and steel.
The Industrial Revolution took place at different times in different countries. Here is a brief summary for a few countries:
| Periods for the Industrial Revolution |
in a Few Selected Countries
|England||1760s||End of the 1830s|
|U.S.A.||Early 1800s||End of the 1850s|
|France||Early 1800s||End of the 1860s|
|Germany||1830s||End of the 1870s|
|Japan||End of the 1860s||Beginning of the 1900s|
INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD (IWW)
A militant working class organization founded in the United States in 1905 with the goal of organizing all workers into one large union. It fought not only for better wages and working conditions, but—unlike most unions in bourgeois society—also favored the overthrow of capitalism. From 1905 to 1908 it was under socialist influence, but afterward became syndicalist in its outlook. Its base of support was among unskilled and immigrant workers who were disgusted with the craft unions and the political conservatism of the American Federation of Labor. The IWW believed that the organization of workers according to their industries could form the basis for a future socialist society, and even conceived of the IWW and industrial unionism as “forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old”.
Despite its ideological weaknesses, the IWW made a major contribution to promoting militancy and class consciousness in the U.S. during its early years. However, after World War I the organization declined rapidly, due to severe government repression and also internal dissention. The IWW still exists today in a miniscule way, but long ago ceased to be a significant social force.
Under the capitalist system the overall trend is for the polarization of both income and wealth to intensify over time—that is to say, for the rich to get ever richer and for the poor to get relatively poorer. The basic reason for this is pretty obvious; the capitalist ruling class runs its companies and all of society in its own interests.
At the present time this inequality of wealth has reached new and record extremes. In early 2015 the Oxfam organization reported that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the poorest 80% of the population owned just 5.5% of the wealth. And it added that if current trends continue, the richest 1% will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
See also: BILLIONAIRES, GINI COEFFICIENT, MILLIONAIRES, RICH AND POOR, SOCIAL JUSTICE INDEX
“[My book demonstrates that in the U.S.] runaway inequality [is] accelerating. It isn’t just there, it’s growing. The fact that 95 percent of all the new income in the current so-called recovery is going to the top 1 percent is indicative of what’s happening. I don’t think that’s ever happened before in American economic history that I can find. There’s no recovery at the bottom, it just keeps going to the top.” —Les Leopold, a liberal labor writer, in an interview about his new book, Runaway Inequality, on Salon.com, March 6, 2016.
“In the tribal or village community with common ownership of land—with
which, or with the easily recognizable survivals of which, all civilized peoples enter
history—a fairly equal distribution of products is a matter of course; where considerable
inequality of distribution among the members of the community sets in, this is an
indication that the community is already beginning to break up.” —Engels,
Anti-Dühring (1878), Part II: Chapter 1, MECW 25:136.
[Engels, of course, is here talking about the transition from primitive communal society to class society, and its several successive forms, slavery, feudalism and capitalism. But in reading this passage in today’s ever more unequal American society we cannot help but think that this extreme and constantly worsening inequality in the contemporary U.S. and around the world also indicates another major social change is looming, namely a socialist revolution whereby the workers and masses finally say “enough of this outrage” and get rid of capitalism entirely! —S.H.]
“The connection between distribution and the material conditions of
existence of society at any period lies so much in the nature of things that it is always
reflected in popular instinct. So long as a mode of production still describes an ascending
curve of development, it is enthusiastically welcomed even by those who come off worst from
its corresponding mode of distribution. This was the case with the English workers in the
beginnings of modern industry. And even while this mode of production remains normal for
society, there is, in general, contentment with the [unequal] distribution, and if
objections to it begin to be raised, these come from within the ruling class itself ([such
as from utopian socialists like] Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen) and find no response whatever
among the exploited masses. Only when the mode of production in question has already
described a good part of its descending curve, when it has half outlived its day, when the
conditions of its existence have to a large extent disappeared, and its successor is already
knocking at the door—it is only at that stage that the constantly increasing inequality of
distribution appears as unjust, it is only then that appeal is made from the facts which have
had their day to so-called eternal justice.” —Engels, ibid., MECW 25:137-8.
[Indeed, it is no accident that there is now a much greater and growing mass concern with economic inequality in society, even though capitalism has always been fundamentally unfair and unequal. The time has now come to seriously start to do something about this inequality in America; i.e., to organize ourselves to make revolution. —S.H.]
The characteristic or property of matter which leads it to remain at rest (if it is already at rest) or to remain in motion at a constant speed and straight line direction (if it is already in motion) unless and until a force is applied to it.
See also: NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION (First Law)
The doctrine that something is inevitable, such as revolution in a certain country in a certain period, or eventual world communism (with no explicit time period specified). The term “inevitableism” itself has pejorative connotations and is generally used by those attacking the idea that the possible event or development at issue is inevitable.
Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and most other major creators and leaders of revolutionary Marxism have forcefully stated that many future things are in fact inevitable (though they rarely indicate precise timeframes), including social revolution, the eventual replacement of capitalism with socialism on a worldwide scale, the eventual transformation of socialism into communism where classes no longer exist, and in the meanwhile (while capitalism still exists), widespread poverty, major economic crises and interimperialist contention and wars.
“The socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system; this is an objective law independent of human will. No matter how the reactionaries try to block the advance of the wheel of history, sooner or later revolution will occur, and it is bound to be victorious.” —Mao, “Speech at Moscow Airport” (November 2, 1957), Leung & Kau, eds., The Writings of Mao Zedong: 1949-1976, vol. II, p. 762.
However, more recently there have been ideological currents within even Marxism that have
denied that many or all of these things are inevitable. It is true of course that very few things
are “absolutely inevitable” with no conceivable possibility that they won’t occur! It is
conceivable, after all, that humanity might be wiped out by a giant asteroid striking the earth
next week, and in that case humanity will not get the chance to overthrow capitalism, introduce
world socialism, and transform that socialism into world communism.
But it seems to me that we should cut Marx, Engels, et al., a little slack here, and understand their predictions that revolution, socialism and communism are inevitable in a more reasonable way. It is in fact true that given a very few assumed conditions, and specifically given that humanity continues to exist, capitalism will eventually be overthrown and the people will institute first socialism and then communism. Indeed, the overthrow of capitalism is itself one of the major conditions required if humanity is to continue to exist! Either humanity gets rid of capitalism, or capitalism will get rid of humanity (through nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, scientific accident through recklessness due to the profit motive, or some combination of such genuine dangers).
There is a tendency in modern bourgeois society toward philosophical (or epistemological) agnosticism, and this has also had some negative effects within Marxism itself. And part of this is to start thinking that nothing significant can really be known about the future, and that revolution and communism are not inevitable (even on reasonable assumptions). We must strongly resist this inroad of bourgeois agnosticism and decadent pessimism within our revolutionary movement! —S.H.
See also: REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISM, TELEOLOGY
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