Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- MAA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Maa-Mac.
- MAD.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Mad-Mam.
- MAN.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Man.
- MAO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Mao-Maq.
- MAR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Mar.
- MAS.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Mas.
- MAT.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Mat-Maw.
- MAX.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Max-Maz.
- MB.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Mb-Md.
Although this older “MA.htm” file still exists (in case there are still links to its
contents), all new entries and revisions to old entries are being made to the above files.
M-THEORY or MEMBRANE THEORY
See: STRING THEORY
MacARTHUR, Douglas (1880-1964)
American imperialist general, who was in charge of the war in the Pacific during World War II, the viceroy of Japan (1945-1951), and the military director of the “U.N.” (i.e. American controlled) imperialist forces during the Korean War. In Korea he wanted to extend the war by attacking China, including quite possibly with nuclear weapons. Because of these reckless demands (even by imperialist standards) he was removed from his position by President Truman in April 1951.
See also: BONUS ARMY
MACH, Ernst (1838-1916)
Austrian physicist and philosopher. Mach was one of the founders of “empirio-criticism”, a form of positivism or idealist empiricism. Mach viewed reality as a “complex of sensations”, which is a prominent form of subjective idealism. Lenin strongly criticizes Mach’s views, and subjective idealism in general, in his important philosophical work, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908).
One of Mach’s idealist notions was that a great many entities we talk about in science, such as molecules and atoms, do not actually have any real existence, but are merely “theoretical constructs” which we have found to be useful in conceptualizing how the world works despite their non-existence! In the case of atoms and molecules, it was only in his old age, shortly before his death, and long after the further absolute confirmation of the existence of molecules and atoms by many experiments, and with Einstein’s theoretical explanation of Brownian motion which depended on the actual existence of atoms and molecules, did Mach finally, yet still reluctantly, admit that atoms probably really did exist.
See also: NEUTRAL MONISM
MACH’S PRINCIPLE (or CONJECTURE) (Philosophy of Science)
The vague hypothesis that “mass there influences inertia here”. According to Mach both inertia and gravitation are consequences of the general distribution of matter in the universe.
Mach was an extreme relativist. While Newton argued that there were such things as “absolute space” and “absolute time”, Mach would have none of either. He argued that the notions of rest and motion are meaningless except against a material background as a reference. More specifically, he argued that the local physical laws observed on the earth depend on the large-scale distribution of matter in the universe, or—as is often said—upon the existence of the “fixed stars”. Newton had pointed out that if you spin two spheres tied together around a point between them there will be a tension on the rope, a tension that is not there if the two spheres are not spinning. This he took to be a method of distinguishing one type of relative motion from absolute rest. Since Mach was determined to explain all motion as being entirely relative, he had to explain why there was tension in the rope in one case and not the other. The best he could come up with was to claim that “somehow” the existence of the rest of the matter in the universe creates the inertia in the spheres that causes the rope between them to have tension when they are spun relative to that external mass (the “fixed stars”). He used a similar argument about why the water in a spinning bucket has a concave shape even after the bucket itself is no longer moving relative to that water.
The modern view in physics is that both Newton and Mach were at least partly wrong; the result is sort of a dialectical synthesis of the ideas of absolute and relative space in the form of inertial frames. (See the Wikipedia article on inertial frames.)
Einstein had great respect for Mach as a person and for his early writings on mechanics, but as time went on he had more and more negative attitudes towards Mach’s philosophical views, such as his notion that the laws of science are merely economical ways of describing a large collection of facts. And with respect to “Mach’s Principle” (which, ironically, Einstein himself had given that name to and was for a long time quite enthusiastic about), he eventually concluded that “As a matter of fact, one should no longer speak of Mach’s principle at all.”
MACHINE TRACTOR STATION (MTS)
A local centralized facility making tractors and other agricultural machinery available to collective and state farms (kolkhozy and sovkhozy) in the Soviet Union. MTSs were initiated in 1927-28, and existed until 1958 in the Khrushchev era when the machinery was transferred to individual collective farms.
“The tractor had long been seen as the key to collectivization. In the autumn of 1927 the large Shevchenko Sovkhoz in the Ukraine managed to acquire 60 to 70 tractors, which were organized in ‘tractor columns’ to work its own fields and those of neighboring Kolkhozy or peasant holdings. The example was imitated elsewhere; and in 1928 Shevchenko established the first Machine Tractor Station (MTS) with a park of tractors to be leased out to Kolkhozy and Sovkhozy in the region. In June 1929 a central office, Traktorsentr, was set up in Moscow to organize and control a network of state MTSs. Peasant prejudices against the innovation, and perhaps against the degree of state intervention involved in it, were hard to overcome. Tractors were sometimes denounced as the work of [the] Anti-Christ. The success of the experiment seemed, however, to have been limited mainly by the supply of tractors; in the autumn of 1929 only 35,000, most of them of American manufacture, were available for the whole of the USSR. Everywhere it came, the tractor was a powerful agent of collectivization.” —E.H. Carr, non-Marxist British historian, The Russian Revolution from Lenin to Stalin (1917-1929) (1979), ch. 16.
A term used (mostly in bourgeois economics) to refer to the study of the whole economy, or large areas of the economy, as opposed to microeconomics.
MADRASAH [Also: MADRASA, MADRESE, MADRASHA, etc.]
[From Arabic, but also a common loan word in many other languages:] A school or academy. Any type of school, whether secular or religious, and from the elementary level through the university level, may be called a madrasah. However, as the term is commonly used in the West, the implication is that these are Islamic religious schools.
MAGDOFF, “Harry” [Henry Samuel] (1913-2006)
Long-time co-editor (with Paul Sweezy) of the important socialist magazine Monthly Review, and author or co-author of a number of books. He was trained as an economist and held several positions in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Truman administrations, before being blackballed for his radical ideas. He was also accused by Richard Nixon of spying for the Soviet Union.
Magdoff wrote several books on U.S. imperialism, including The Age of Imperialism (1969) which was very influential within the developing new revolutionary movement in the U.S. at the time. Along with Sweezy he also wrote a number of essays and books putting forward the blend of Marxism and Keynesianism which was characteristic of the Monthly Review School of political economy.
See: GOULD, Stephen Jay, “DOCTRINE OF THE TWO BOOKS”
“Trust the majority of the cadres and the masses. This is essential.” —Mao, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (June 29, 1967), SW 9:416.
MAJUMDAR, Charu (1918-72)
See: MAZUMDAR, Charu
MAKHNO, Nestor (1888-1934)
The most prominent leader of the anarchist movement and army in southern Ukraine during the period of the Russian Civil War. Makhno was a commander of the peasant-based Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, more popularly known as the Anarchist Black Army, which engaged in fairly large scale guerrilla warfare during 1918-21. Makhno and the anarchists were opposed to all forms of government, even one imposing the rule of the working class and peasantry. At different times Makhno supported the Bolsheviks against the Tsarist White armies, then the Ukrainian Directorate [a provisional peasant nationalist regime formed in 1918], the Bolsheviks again against the Whites, and then fought against the Bolsheviks in an attempt to organize a utopian anarchist society called the Free Territory of Ukraine. When the Bolsheviks gained the upper hand Machno fled into exile in France.
MALINOVSKY, Alexander A. (1873-1928)
See: Alexander BOGDANOV
MALINOVSKY, Roman Vatslavovich (1876-1918)
A prominent trade union organizer, elected Bolshevik member to the Russian Duma [parliament], member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, and the highest paid spy for the Tsarist secret police, the notorious Okhrana.
Malinovsky had a dubious life right from an early age. Born into a Roman Catholic peasant family in Russian Poland, he was orphaned while quite young and turned to petty crime to survive. According to the Wikipedia, in 1899—at the age of about 23—he was convicted of theft, rape and burglary. We doubt if his lumpen criminal background was known to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) when he began associating with them after his jail term and a 4-year enlistment in the Russian army. (If it was, they definitely should have been much more cautious about him.)
In 1906 Malinovsky was working as a lathe operator at a factory in St. Petersburg, and also was a talented labor organizer for the Metalworkers Union and joined the RSDLP. He was arrested by the Okhrana in 1909 and expelled from St. Petersburg. He and his family then moved to Moscow where he was arrested again in 1910. This time, he accepted a deal with the Okhrana. For both his freedom and a fairly substantial monthly salary (for the times) he became a agent for the Okhrana, with instructions to further develop his ties with the RSDLP and especially the Bolshevik faction. It is said that using information that Malinovsky provided, the Okhrana not only learned the real names of many party members, the locations of party meetings, locations of storage places for party literature, etc., but “was able to curtail almost all meaningful Social Democratic activity in Moscow during 1910 and 1911.” Malinovsky also provided the information to locate and arrest several important Bolsheviks which led to their exile to Siberia, including Grigory Ordzhonikidze, Joseph Stalin and Yakov Sverdlov.
In January 1912 Malinovsky showed up at the Sixth Party Conference which Lenin had called in Prague, even though he was not an authorized delegate. Lenin knew of him because of his good reputation in labor organization work and, supposedly, was also impressed by his forceful personality. Lenin therefore proposed that Malinovsky be elected to the Central Committee and also suggested that he would be a good candidate for election to the next Duma as a representative of the Moscow workers. “Backed by both the police and the party, Malinovsky was duly elected in October 1912.” [Carter Elwood] In the Duma Malinovsky was a “surprisingly eloquent” speaker and spokesman for the Bolshevik viewpoint. He also used his immunity as a Duma member to raise funds for the Bolsheviks, to establish and promote its legal newspapers and publishing operation, and so forth. (However, he also served on the party commission set up to find and expose police agents in the party ranks!) Because of Malinovsky’s considerable agitational effectiveness for the Bolsheviks, and his other work for the party, the Okhrana became alarmed by the role he was playing. Consequently they ordered him to resign his Duma seat, which he then did.
However, this unauthorized resignation—as far as the Bolsheviks were concerned—and the obvious violation of party discipline, immediately raised some serious questions about Malinovsky, and was a major embarrassment for the Bolsheviks. Apparently it was the Menshevik leader Julius Martov who in 1913 first condemned Malinovsky as a Tsarist spy. Lenin refused to believe this at the time, but after his resignation from the Duma Malinovsky was removed from his positions in the party and also expelled as a party member. Malinovsky had been ordered by the Okhrana to help widen the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, which he did. However, this meant that accusations coming from the Mensheviks of spying for the Tsarist regime tended to sound like mere anti-Bolshevik partisanship. Moreover, in Lenin’s view, the harsh line against the Mensheviks that Malinovsky took was more than justified. These things probably account for Lenin’s reluctance to totally condemn Malinovsky at first.
One source claims that after his exposure Malinovsky fled to Germany, and when World War I broke out he was interned in a POW camp there. Another source says that he was in the Russian army again during the war, and was wounded and captured by the Germans in 1915 and then held in a POW camp. Either way, after the war and the Bolshevik Revolution, Malinovsky returned to Russia, and under a false name even tried to take part in the Petrograd Soviet! But Grigory Zinoviev recognized him, and he was arrested and put on trial as a traitor to the revolution. Lenin is said to have briefly attended the trial but did not testify, and left muttering “What a swine he was!” Malinovsky was found guilty and executed.
One further note about the Malinovsky affair: It has been claimed by some modern commentators that Malinovsky actually was a double agent, and had been secretly working with Lenin all along. But there is no evidence for this at all, even in the newly available files after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And it makes no sense that Lenin would have participated in the serious disruption of the party work in Moscow that Malinovsky enabled. This theory probably comes about because Malinovsky really did seem to be somewhat politically schizoid, simultaneously and conscientiously working for both the Bolsheviks and for the Okhrana.
“In our case... the rapid alternation of legal and illegal work, which made it necessary to keep the general staff—the leaders—under cover and to cloak them in the greatest secrecy, sometimes gave rise to extremely dangerous consequences. The worst of these was that in 1912 the agent provocateur Malinovsky got into the Bolshevik Central Committee. He betrayed scores and scores of the best and most loyal comrades, caused them to be sentenced to penal servitude, and hastened the death of many of them. That he did not cause still greater harm was due to the correct balance between legal and illegal work. As member of the Party’s Central Committee and Duma deputy, Malinovsky was forced, in order to gain our confidence, to help us establish legal daily papers, which even under tsarism were able to wage a struggle against the Menshevik opportunism and to spread the fundamentals of Bolshevism in a suitably disguised form. While, on the one hand, Malinovsky sent scores and scores of the finest Bolsheviks to penal servitude and death, he was obliged, with the other, to assist in the education of scores and scores of thousands of new Bolsheviks through the medium of the legal press.” —Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism—An Infantile Disorder (April-May 1920), LCW 31:45-46.
“Malinovsky was a prisoner of war in Germany. On his return to Russia when the Bolsheviks were in power he was instantly put on trial and shot by our workers. The Mensheviks attacked us most bitterly for our mistake—the fact that an agent provocateur had become a member of the Central Committee of our Party. But when, under Kerensky, we demanded the arrest and trial of Rodzyanko, the Chairman of the Duma, because he had known, even before the war, that Malinovsky was an agent provocateur and had not informed the Trudoviks and the workers in the Duma, neither the Mensheviks nor the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the Kerensky government supported our demand, and Rodzyanko remained at large and made off unhindered to join Denikin.” —Lenin, ibid. (footnote on same page).
MALTHUS, Thomas Robert (1766-1834)
English cleric and economist. He was an ideologist of the landed aristocracy which had become merged with the bourgeoisie and an apologist for capitalism. His famous (and erroneous) theory that the population would always expand to the point that the masses would be driven down to the bare subsistence level was put forward to explain away the qualitatively increased misery that the development of capitalism was causing in Britain. In his economic writings he tended to plagiarize others, especially Sismondi.
MANCH or MANCHA
A word in Hindi and related languages meaning “forum” or “platform”.
An informal network of bourgeois political economists in the early 19th century centered in the big industrial city of Manchester, England. Its leaders were Richard Cobden and John Bright. It strongly favored free trade and the abolition of all laws restricting or regulating capitalism, and the Corn Laws in particular. Modern laissez-faire and neoliberal ideologies are a continuation of this sort of ultra-bourgeois thinking.
See also: MUKDEN INCIDENT
“‘Manchukuo’ was the name given by Japanese imperialism to the puppet
regime it set up after invading and occupying Liaoning, Kirin and Heilungkiang Provinces
in northeast China in 1931.
“On September 18, 1931, Japan launched a large-scale attack on northeast China. The traitorous Chiang Kai-shek clique followed a policy of non-resistance. Much of Liaoning, Kirin and Heilungkiang Provinces came under Japanese occupation.
“To tighten its rule over northeast China, Japanese imperialism concocted a so-called ‘Manchukuo’ in Changchun on February 3, 1932 and installed Pu Yi, the last emperor of the Ching Dynasty, as ‘ruler.’ In March 1934, ‘Manchukuo’ was renamed ‘Manchurian empire.’
“After overrunning northeast China, the Japanese imperialists, flaunting the banner of ‘Manchukuo,’ savagely slaughtered Chinese patriots and plundered China of its rich resources. Led by the Chinese Communist Party and the Anti-Japanese United Army, the people of northeast China put up courageous resistance by waging a guerrilla war. In 1945, the Chinese people’s War of Resistance Against Japan was crowned with victory and the so-called ‘Manchukuo’ was swept into the dust-bin of history.” —Note in Peking Review, #47, Nov. 18, 1977, p. 27.
MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
See: COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
The traits of the character Manilov, who was a sentimental landowner, in Gogol’s Dead Souls. Gogol portrayed him as an idle dreamer and an empty, lazy chatterbox. Lenin frequently used this term to criticize the same characteristics in some of those within the socialist movement.
MANUFACTURING — In General and Worldwide
To manufacture something originally meant to make it by hand (from the Latin words for ‘hand’ and ‘to make’). However, tools have always been employed in the process and from the start of the Industrial Revolution machines have been employed in manufacturing in an ever more extensive and important way. Now, in the early 21st century, we are beginning to see some manufacturing being done entirely by machine without any direct human labor involved at all. This trend will certainly continue and become much more common, with the further development of automation and artificial intelligence.
For a few centuries the number of manufacturing jobs increased tremendously—even though manufacturing was constantly becoming more efficient. However, for some decades now the number of manufacturing jobs in the world has been declining, and ever more rapidly so. In 2003 there were still around 163 million manufacturing jobs in the world, but by 2040 there is expected to be only a few million such jobs left. [Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014), p. 125.]
MANUFACTURING — U.S.
Manufacturing has been declining overall in the U.S. for decades, and this rate of decline has increased in the new millennium (despite some short-term secondary ups and downs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages showed there were 398,887 private manufacturing establishments in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2001. By the end of 2010, that number had declined to 342,647, a drop of 56,240 facilities. In 2010 alone, 8,660 factories closed down.
Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have declined much more rapidly, because of productivity improvements. This is shown in the graph at the right, which indicates that the number of manufacturing jobs has now dropped nearly to the level at the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
See also: INNOVATION-ONLY MODEL
MANY WORLDS THEORY (of Quantum Mechanics)
Another bizarre idealist philosophical conception of quantum mechanics that claims that every time a quantum particle event occurs (which is umpteen quintillion times per second) a separate new “parallel universe” is formed! This absurd theory was cooked up by the physicist Hugh Everett III, and amazingly, there are some people who take it seriously.
MAO Zedong [Old style: Mao Tsetung, or Mao Tse-tung] (1893-1976)
The great Chinese revolutionary leader who further developed the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism into what we now call Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and who led two great social revolutions: the Chinese Revolution of 1949 (the liberation of China from foreign imperialism and bureaucrat/comprador capitalism, and then the construction of socialism), and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (against the capitalist-roaders within the Communist Party of China). After Lenin, Mao was by far the greatest and most important revolutionary Marxist of the 20th century.
[More to be added...]
MAO Zedong — Life Of
[To be added...]
MAO Zedong — Contributions of to Revolutionary Theory and Practice
Summing up Mao’s enormously important contributions to revolutionary thought and practice is no small task. From the standpoint of revolutionary practice it is hard to believe that the great Chinese Revolution which overthrew foreign imperialism and Chinese bureaucrat-comprador capitalism in 1949 could have been successful without him, at least during that era. And it is virtually impossible to imagine that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution could have occurred at all without his personal initiation and direction of it. Mao’s contributions to revolutionary theory lay behind both those great revolutions; in philosophy and socialist political economy, as well as in revolutionary political and military strategy. The outline here of Mao’s individual great contributions to Chinese and international revolutionary theory and practice should therefore be viewed as both incomplete and insufficiently elaborated.
1. Mao’s creation of the new revolutionary strategy of People’s War:
It is true that peasant rebellions and guerrilla warfare have a long history in China, and also occurred in Europe and elsewhere. But after the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Marxist-Leninists the world over—with hardly any exceptions—were unable to conceive of any proletarian revolutionary strategy except that of the “October Road”; i.e., of a long period of mostly legal struggle leading to eventual insurrection in the cities, and then most likely followed by a period of civil war. While Mao recognized very well that this October Road strategy was still necessary and appropriate in advanced capitalist countries, he analyzed the failure of this approach in China in the 1920s and came up with a brand new strategy for proletarian revolution in mostly rural, largely feudal countries like China—namely People’s War. This new strategy of the countryside first surrounding the cities was successful not only in China, but also in Vietnam.
Included in this theory of People’s War are some truly brilliant principles of revolutionary military strategy, the proper relationship of the revolutionary army to the masses, and so forth. Many of these principles are also applicable in other circumstances and in other types of revolutionary warfare.
2. The method of leadership of the masses which Mao called “from the masses, to the masses” and which is also known as the mass line:
This is the democratic method of finding out from the masses themselves what their ideas are about how to promote their own struggle, selecting the best of these ideas based on existing revolutionary theory, the revolutionary goal, and a study of the objective situation, and then returning this political line of action to the masses and leading them in struggle on this basis.
This method of leadership is perhaps the single most characteristic feature of Maoist politics, and certainly the most striking aspect. While it was to some degree implicit in Marxism all along, and was also used informally by Lenin (as with his recognition of the importance of the soviets (councils) to the Russian revolution, when they were created by the masses), it was only with Mao that this general method of leadership was summed up theoretically and then systematically popularized among the Communist Party members as the fundamental method of revolutionary leadership. This leadership method played a huge role in the success of the 1949 Revolution and in the socialist transformation of industry and agriculture. (It was less systematically used in the GPCR, however, even though Mao himself called for it to be used as the “basic method” in that revolution in the initial 16 points in the document which launched the GPCR.)
3. The establishment of genuine socialist society in China during the period of the late 1950s, including in the countryside:
It may seem obvious that if there is a successful revolution in the name of the proletariat it will then proceed to really establish socialism both in industry and in agriculture. However, most of the so-called socialist revolutions in Eastern Europe after World War II did not really do this. In industry their “socialism” just meant nationalization and having top-down economic planning, which almost from the start became hard to distinguish from state capitalism. It did not really extend, in any serious way, to the control of workplaces by the workers there. Even worse, collectivization in the countryside in Eastern Europe was a complete failure. In China, however, Mao led the country not only in the nationalization of industry and the establishment of socialist economic planning, but also strongly promoted the supervision and control of workplaces and their policies by the working class itself, the requirement that managers also take part in labor, and so forth. (These measures were then greatly intensified during the GPCR.)
Even more tellingly, Mao led the genuine collectivization struggle in the countryside into real socialism, culminating with the creation of the People’s Communes. Because of the use of the mass line, this not only improved upon what had previously been done in the Soviet Union, it was done in a vastly more humane, democratic and successful way than Stalin’s brutal collectivization of agriculture in the USSR.
4. The recognition that the class struggle continues under socialism and through the entire period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the promotion of serious revolutionary politics in this continuing struggle:
In hindsight, the entire world proletarian revolutionary movement looks rather naïve in initially supposing that the seizure of power by the working class in a country and the consequent nationalization of industry, along with the creation of economic planning, would by itself soon create a solid and stable socialist society progressing steadily on the path to communism. Mao was one of the first to recognize that this was not what was happening in the Soviet Union, and that China was also in danger of following the capitalist path that Khrushchev and his followers had pioneered there.
Mao then initiated the “Great Debate” with the revisionist Soviet Union over the path forward. [Many of the documents from the Chinese side in this debate are now available at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GreatDebate/index.htm#GreatDebate] This debate was of world importance in re-establishing Marxism-Leninism as a genuinely communist movement.
5. Mao’s launching of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to stop those within the Communist Party of China itself, who were on the capitalist road, from destroying socialism in China:
This is one of the most remarkable events in all of revolutionary history; the leader of a revolutionary party launching a new revolution against that very party because it had been captured (to a considerable degree) by representatives of the class enemy.
The GPCR was successful for a decade, while Mao was still alive, in preventing the capitalist-roaders from destroying socialism. Unfortunately, after Mao died on September 9, 1976, these revisionists seized power in a political coup d’etát, and soon turned China back into a capitalist country again, and later even into a fully-fledged imperialist country. Nevertheless, our world revolutionary movement, even though it is rather weak at the moment, has learned an invaluable lesson from all this. Mao has alerted us to a very serious problem which we will be much better prepared to deal with in the future. For one thing, the communist parties we now create and develop will be concerned with this long term threat right from the very beginning.
6. Mao’s contributions to philosophy:
The Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism was created and summarized earlier by Marx, Engels and Lenin, and many of the basic ideas included in it are actually traceable back to Hegel, Feuerbach, and the French materialist philosophers of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, Mao’s contribution in this area was tremendous. He reconnected up dialectical materialism to revolutionary politics in the intimate way that had not occurred since Lenin. Marxist philosophy was changed from the more or less ideological window dressing that it had become back into a true guide to understanding and changing the world. Mao took dialectical materialism seriously! And because he did, and led quite successful revolutionary struggle by doing so, we, his political descendants, also now take dialectical materialism seriously.
7. Mao’s contributions to socialist political economy:
Mao’s contributions in this area are quite underappreciated. Mao did not write on the political economy of capitalism, but he spent a large part of his life working out how exactly to transform capitalism into socialism, and then eventually into communism. He analyzed what had gone wrong in Soviet industry (such as the top down approach and the failure to use the mass line) and in the rural collectivization efforts there and in Eastern Europe. And he kept China not only socialist while he was alive, but undergoing significant periodic transformations in the direction of communism. His pathbreaking efforts and successes in this area remain an important part of his legacy for the entire world communist movement.
MAO — Evaluation of Stalin
See: STALIN—Evaluation of by Mao
MAO — On Religion
See also: MARXISM—As a Religion [Mao quote], TAOISM [Mao quote]
“Primitive humans, yielding before the force of nature and capable only of
using simple tools, were unable to explain change in the environment and so turned to the
gods for help. This was the origin of religion and idealism....
“The science of history has proved to humankind the materiality and law-like regularity of the world, and given rise to a consciousness of the uselessness of the fantasies of religion and idealism, and resulted in humankind’s arrival at materialism.” —Mao, “Lecture Notes on Dialectical Materialism” (1937), in Nick Knight, Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism (1990), pp. 90 & 91.
“The theory of motion of dialectical materialism is first and foremost in opposition to the idealism and religious deism of philosophy. The essence of all idealisms and religious deisms resides in their refusal to recognize the material unity of the world; they assume that the world’s motion and development are non-material, or were at the very beginning non-material, and are the consequence of the operation of spirits or God’s supernatural power. The German idealist philosopher Hegel believed that the contemporary world had developed out of the so-called ‘World Idea’; and in China, the philosophy of the Book of Changes and the moral theories of Song and Ming neo-Confucianism all engendered views of the development of the world which were idealist. Christianity asserts God created the world, and in Buddhism and the various Chinese fetishisms the motion and development of the world’s myriad things is put down to the supernatural. All of these explanations which contemplate motion divorced from matter are fundamentally incompatible with dialectical materialism. Besides idealism and religion, all pre-Marxist materialism and all present-day anti-Marxist mechanistic materialism, are proponents of materialist theories of motion when it comes to discussing natural phenomena, but the moment social phenomena are mentioned, they cannot but become divorced from material causes and revert to spiritual causation.” —Mao, “Lecture Notes on Dialectical Materialism” (1937), ibid., p. 105.
“A man in China is usually subjected to the domination of three systems of
authority: (1) the state system (political authority), ranging from the national, provincial
and county government down to that of the township; (2) the clan system (clan authority),
ranging from the central ancestral temple and its branch temples down to the head of the
household; and (3) the supernatural system (religious authority), ranging from the King of
Hell down to the town and village gods belonging to the nether world, and from the Emperor
of Heaven down to all the various gods and spirits belonging to the celestial world. As for
women, in addition to being dominated by these three systems of authority, they are also
dominated by the men (the authority of the husband). These four authorities—political, clan,
religious and masculine—are the embodiment of the whole feudal-patriarchal system and
ideology, and are the four thick ropes binding the Chinese people, particularly the peasants.
How the peasants have overthrown the political authority of the landlords in the countryside
[in the liberated areas] has been described above. The political authority of the landlords
is the backbone of all the other systems of authority. With that overturned, the clan
authority, the religious auhority and the authority of the husband all begin to totter....
Everywhere religious authority totters as the peasant movement develops. In many places the
peasant associations have taken over the temples of the gods as their offices. Everywhere
they advocate the appropriation of temple property in order to start peasant schools and to
defray the expenses of the associations, calling it ‘public revenue from superstition’. In
Liling Country, prohibiting superstitious practices and smashing idols have become quite the
vogue. In its northern districts the peasants have prohibited the incense-burning processions
to propitiate the god of pestilence. There were many idols in the Taoist temple at Fupoling
in Lukou, but when extra room was needed for the district headquarters of the Kuomintang
[then in alliance with the CCP], they were all piled up in a corner, big and small together,
and no peasant raised any objection. Since then, sacrifices to the gods, the performance of
religious rites and the offering of sacred lamps have rarely been practised when a death
occurs in a family. Because the initiative in this matter was taken by the chairman of the
peasant association, Sun Hsiao-shan, he is hated by the local Taoist priests. In the Lungfeng
Nunnery in the North Third District, the peasants and primary school teachers chopped up the
wooden idols and actually used the wood to cook meat. More than thirty idols in the Tungfu
Monastery in the Southern District were burned by the students and peasants together, and
only two small images of Lord Pao [an ancient official known for his fairness] were snatched
up by an old peasant who said, ‘Don’t commit a sin!’ In places where the power of the peasants
is predominant, only the older peasants and the women still believe in the gods, the younger
peasants no longer doing so. Since the latter control the associations, the overthrow of
religious authority and the eradication of superstition are going on everywhere.”
—Mao, “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (March 1927), SW 1:44-45.
“Furthermore, the imperialist powers have never slackened their efforts to poison the minds of the Chinese people. This is their policy of cultural aggression. And it is carried out through missionary work, through establishing hospitals and schools, publishing newspapers and inducing Chinese students to study abroad. Their aim is to train intellectuals who will serve their interests and to dupe the people.” —Mao (and comrades), “The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party” (December 1939), SW 2:312.
“In the field of political action Communists may form an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal united front with some idealists and even religious people, but we can never approve of their idealism or religious doctrines.” —Mao, “On New Democracy” (January 1940), SW 2:381.
“The Communist Party of China is in full agreement with Dr. Sun’s policy on nationalities as stated here.... Their spoken and written languages, their manners and customs and their religious beliefs must be respected.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:306. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_25.htm
“All religions are permitted in China’s Liberated Areas, in accordance with the principle of freedom of religious belief. All believers in Protestantism, Catholicism, Islamism, Buddhism and other faiths enjoy the protection of the people’s government so long as they are abiding by its laws. Everyone is free to believe or not to believe; neither compulsion nor discrimination is permitted.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:313. Online as indicated above.
“The Communist Party adopts the policy of protecting religion. Whether you believe in religion or not and whether you believe in this religion or that religion, all of you will be respected. The Party respects religious belief. This policy, as presently adopted, will continue to be adopted in the future.” —Mao, comments to the Tibetan Goodwill Mission (1952), Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], November 22, 1952. [English translation from Donald E. MacInnis, Religious Policy and Practice in Communist China (1972), p. 14.]
“In advocating freedom with leadership and democracy under centralized guidance, we in no way mean that coercive measures should be taken to settle ideological questions or questions involving the distinction between right and wrong among the people. All attempts to use administrative orders or coercive measures to settle ideological questions or questions of right and wrong are not only ineffective but harmful. We cannot abolish religion by administrative order or force people not to believe in it. We cannot compel people to give up idealism, any more than we can force them to embrace Marxism. The only way to settle questions of an ideological nature or controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, criticism, persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression.” —Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (Feb. 27, 1957), SW 5:389. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-5/mswv5_58.htm
MAO — Personality Cult
Around 1942, with the Rectification Movement in the Chinese Communist Party which condemned the erroneous and disastrous earlier political lines of Wang Ming and others, the early signs of a personality cult began to arise around Mao Zedong. Of course it is true that political lines are generally associated with prominent individual leaders, and that goes for correct lines as well as incorrect lines. Thus there is always at least an implicit commendation involved for those who have led in the adoption of political lines and policies which have been proven successful. And it is also true that those who have led in the development of past successful lines have earned the right to be carefully listened to when they propose additional lines and policies in new situations. However, there is still the danger of starting to think that political lines are correct because only that one person is capable of developing them, and even that whatever that one person says in the future must also be correct.
While there were some signs of this sort of thing in the CCP at least from 1942 on, it got taken to absurd extremes during the first few years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (i.e., in the period 1966-1970). For a while it was practically mandatory to refer to Mao as “the Great Leader Chairman Mao” if not the fuller phrase “the Great Leader, the Great Supreme Commander, the Great Teacher and the Great Helmsman Chairman Mao”. Successes in agriculture, industry, education and all spheres of life were attributed to Mao or Mao Tsetung Thought. Mao badges were produced in huge numbers (possibly more than 2 billion according to the Wikipedia) and it was practically obligatory to wear such badges over one’s heart and to carry a copy of the “Little Red Book” (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung). It is said that people were also often required to recite quotations from Mao. Mao was in fact treated almost as a living god by huge numbers of people.
Although these days most Maoists inside and outside China tend to cringe at the most extreme manifestations of the Mao personality cult, it is still widely defended as having been “necessary” for the most part. The argument in favor of promoting the personality cult around Mao was that—given the strength and growing domination of the CCP by the capitalist roaders—this was the only way to build a mass movement to expose and oust these enemies from positions of power in the party and government. There was no doubt some considerable truth to this, but it only pushes the central issue back a bit: How did it happen that things got so out of hand in the first place?! Surely there must be some strong criticism of Mao and the other genuine proletarian revolutionaries in the CCP for allowing this crisis situation to develop to the point where a personality cult around Mao could be deemed necessary in order to re-establish proletarian rule!
By far the worst promoter of the Mao cult was Lin Biao, who among other things introduced the fad of constantly waving the “Little Red Book”. And after Lin’s downfall the personality cult was soon drastically cut back. The requirement that Mao badges be constantly worn soon diasappeared. Nevertheless, Mao himself must receive the primary blame for promoting this personality cult around him, even though he resisted some of the wildest aspects of it (see his letter below to Jiang Qing) and insisted that it be greatly toned down during the last years of his life.
See also: PERSONALITY CULT, CULT (Political), and the long article "Personality Cult: Is It Necessary for Revolution?", by Ranganayakamma, written in 1983, and a discussion from 2007 occasioned by that article at: http://www.massline.org/SingleSpark/Theory/P-Cult-Discuss1.htm
“The center is asking my permission to publish the speech given by my friend
[Lin Biao], and I shall agree.... I have doubts about some of his views. I have never believed
that my little red book contained so much spiritual power. When he praises it to heaven, the
whole country will do the same. It is all exaggerated.... (I have been pushed by them onto
Mount Liang [among the rebels]), and I cannot refuse my consent. To be forced to give it
against my convictions is something that has never happened to me in all my life.... I feel
sure of myself, yet I have doubts.... At the Hangzhou conference last April, I said that I
did not approve of the formulas my friend uses, but my words had no effect.... They have used
even worse expressions, they have exalted me to the heavens as the miracle of miracles....
I have become the Zhong Kui [a terrifying mythological character] of the XX century Communist
party.... I’ll break my bones in the fall.... If they have already demolished Marx and Lenin,
why not us, too—and with more reason? You should think about this and not let victory go to
your head.... Our task today is to knock out some of the rightist elements in the Party and
in the country (to knock all of them out would be impossible); in seven or eight years we
could launch a new campaign.... When can these lines be published?.... Perhaps the moment will
be after my death, when the Right will have appropriated the power.... The Right will exploit
my words to raise the black banner, but without much luck. Since the Chinese empire was overt
in 1911, the reaction has never been able to hold power for long. The Left, however, will use
my words toward organizing itself, and the Right will be overthrown...”
—Mao, in a letter to his wife Jiang Qing, July 8, 1966. From Edoarda Masi, China Winter: Workers, Mandarins, and the Purge of the Gang of Four (NY: 1982), p. 19. Originally from an English translation of the letter in Issues and Studies, January 1973, pp. 94-96, and in the Yearbook of Chinese Communism, 1973, pp. 2-3.
[Alas, it seems that the capitalist roaders in China have held onto power much longer than Mao expected. —Ed.]
“We discussed my account of our last talk, in January 1965, in which I
had reported his [Mao’s] acknowledgement that there was indeed a ‘cult of personality’ in
China—and moreover there was reason for one. Some people [in China] had criticized me for
writing about that.
“So, he said, what if I had written about a ‘cult of personality’ in China? There was such a thing. Why not write about it? It was a fact ... those officials who had opposed my return to China in 1967 and 1968 had belonged to an ultraleftist group which had seized the foreign ministry for a time, but they were all cleared out long ago. At the time of our 1965 colloquy, Mao continued, a great deal of power—over propaganda work within the provincial and local party committees, and especially within the Peking Municipal Party Committee—had been out of his control. That was why he had then stated that there was need for more personality cult, in order to stimulate the masses to dismantle the anti-Mao party bureaucracy.
“Of course the personality cult had been overdone. Today, things were different. It was hard, the chairman said, for people to overcome the habits of 3,000 years of emperor-worshiping tradition. The so-called ‘Four Greats’—those epithets applied to Mao himself: ‘Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Supreme Commander, Great Helmsman’—what a nuisance. They would all be elminated sooner or later. Only the word ‘teacher’ would be retained—that is, simply schoolteacher. Mao had always been a schoolteacher and still was one. He was a primary schoolteacher in Changsha even before he was a Communist. All the rest of the titles would be declined.
“‘I often wonder,’ I said, ‘whether those who shout Mao the loudest and wave the most banners are not—as some say—waving the Red Flag in order to defeat the Red Flag.’
“Mao nodded. He said such people fell into three categories. The first were sincere people. The second were those who drifted with the tide—they conformed because everyone else shouted ‘Long live.’ The third category were hypocrites. I was right not to be taken in by such stuff.”
—Edgar Snow, “A Conversation with Mao Tse-tung”, Life magazine, April 30, 1971, p. 40. This article is online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/Individuals/Snow-Edgar/EdgarSnow-Life-1971-April30.pdf
The name most commonly used in the West for a style of formal clothing commonly worn by Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders during the Mao era, but which was actually created at the request of Sun Yat-sen, and promoted by him early in the 20th century. Sun Yat-sen is also known as Sun Zhongshan, so in China this is called a Zhongshan suit. It is also sometimes called the “People’s suit”.
Mao suits were mostly abandoned in China in the 1980s after the new capitalist class consolidated its control of the Communist Party and the government, and sought to more strongly emulate Western capitalist countries. However, Mao suits are occasionally dragged out of the closet for occasions when the rulers seek to emphasize their supposed “legitimacy”, as for example in the uneasy aftermath of the Tiananmen Massacre that Deng Xiaoping engineered in 1989.
MAOIST COMMUNIST PARTY OF TURKEY AND NORTH KURDISTAN [MKP]
A party founded in 1994 as a split off from the TKP/ML, and was originally known as the Communist Party of Turkey (ML), with parentheses rather than a slash! It has two periodicals in Turkish, Devrimci Demokrasi [“Revolutionary Democracy”] and Sinif Teorisi [“Theory of the Class”]. The MKP has an armed wing named the People’s Liberation Army (Turkish initials: HKO). The Party was affiliated with the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement while that organization existed.
Some of the MKP’s documents and statements are being posted at: http://www.bannedthought.net/Turkey/index.htm
MAOIST REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY
See: REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY, FOREIGN EXPERIENCE
A foreign-owned manufacturing plant in Mexico, generally near the U.S. border. Maquiladoras have often been established by U.S. corporations in order to exploit low-wage Mexican labor. They are also allowed by the Mexican government to import materials and equipment from the U.S. duty free. These advantages have allowed U.S. corporations to increase their profits by shifting their production across the border. Ironically, however, in recent years, with the rise of even cheaper wage production in China, many maquiladoras have been undercut and have closed down.
The maras are youth gangs in Central America (especially El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras).
“[T]here are ... roughly 70,000 members of Central America’s maras, or youth gangs, which provide a ready supply of teenagers willing to ferry drugs, mind kidnap victims and carry out other low-level tasks. The blossoming links between the drug traffickers and the maras are a big worry.” —The Economist, Jan. 22, 2011, p. 45.
MARCUSE, Herbert (1898-1971)
German-American philosopher of the “Frankfurt School”. [More to be added...]
MARGIN CALL [Capitalist Finance]
A demand from a stock broker for additional funds from an investor who purchased stocks or other investment securities “on margin” (i.e., partly with a loan from the broker). If the value of the stocks that were purchased falls, then the value of the portion purchased with money loaned by the broker also falls, which means his collateral in the form of those stock certificates is worth less than it was earlier and the broker is now in danger of losing money. The broker thus demands that the “investor” (i.e., speculator) cover that loss in the value of the collateral by giving him an equivalent amount of money (or securities).
In a financial crisis all the speculators who have overextended themselves (i.e., most of them!) can suddenly be faced with margin calls which force them to sell other assets at a loss in order to come up with the necessary cash. Since many speculators are doing this simultaneously, it can lead to a very sudden major and continuing crash in the values of stocks and bonds in general, in a kind of vicious circle.
The marginalist theory, or Theory of Marginal Utility, in bourgeois economics, is a conception designed to replace the labor theory of value developed by Marx from the cruder versions of the classical bourgeois economists. These “more modern” bourgeois economists chafed under the well-established idea that the value of commodities derives from the amount of socially necessary labor time incorporated into them, and longed for another “source” of value which would not give the working class so much credit. They settled on the “marginal” (or “additional”) usefulness of a commodity to the purchaser, or to some hypothetical eventual purchaser.
This theory is actually quite incoherent. It cannot explain, for example, how two different commodities which are equally useful to you (whether “at the margin” or not) might commonly have such enormously different actual values. Nevertheless, this absurd notion has become the cornerstone of bourgeois neoclassical economics.
While there are hints of this marginalist theory in earlier authors, even as far back as Jeremy Bentham, the three bourgeois economists generally given the primary credit for the theory are William Stanley Jevons, Carl Menger and Léon Walras. Alfred Marshall also played a role in mathematizing this theory and turning it into the modern dogma which it still remains in bourgeois economics.
MARK-TO-MARKET [Capitalist Finance]
Adjusting the reported, or recorded, value of an asset to reflect its changed market value.
MARKET CAPITALIZATION [Capitalist Finance]
The total market value of all the stock issued by a corporation. Thus if a company has issued 25 million shares which are currently valued at $40 per share, the current market capitalization of that company is 25 million × $40 = $1 billion.
See also: STOCK MARKET CAPITALIZATION
An attempt to combine “socialism” with capitalism, and in particular with the capitalist commodity market (including the market for labor-power). From the revolutionary Marxist (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) perspective this makes no sense whatsoever, because we define socialism as the transitional stage between capitalism and communism. But various types of revisionist thinkers view “socialism” as merely a modification of capitalism, and sometimes even such a slight modification that some of them consider a lightly “regulated” capitalist welfare state (such as in Scandinavia) to be “socialism”!
Clearly nothing like European social democracy can be in any way viewed as genuine socialism, either economically or politically. But couldn’t we imagine a society where there are really no capitalists, but still separate, decentralized state-run enterprises that use a market to sell commodities to each other, and sell mass-consumption commodities to the people? Couldn’t there still be a labor market as well, with these enterprises hiring workers, and even continuing to extract surplus value from them—but then turning all of this surplus value over to the state for the expansion of production and for public purposes (education, health care, retirement benefits, and so forth), with no “profits” going to any rich owners of the enterprises (because there are none)?
One important thing to seriously ponder in a thought experiment of this kind is just how stable such a system would be. In fact it would be extremely unstable, and would inevitably degenerate back into traditional capitalism. There would still be foremen, supervisors, layers of management of plants and enterprises, influential people running the government and the dominent political parties, and so forth. And these people would soon develop (if they didn’t already have) special interests of their own, both as individuals, and collectively as a new social class. In other words class society would soon reassert itself, and we would soon be back in the horrible capitalist world where we live today.
“But couldn’t we keep such tendencies under control?” someone might ask. “Couldn’t we perhaps use the methods developed in Mao’s China to have managers also engage in productive labor, to rotate streams of ordinary workers into management and government positions for limited periods of time, etc. Couldn’t we even engage in struggle against those who get too uppity and start to gather too many private privileges and too much individual power, and so forth?” The answer is that this sort of thing might work for a while, and will have to be made to work during the relatively short socialist transition period to communism. But if society is organized in such a way that these measures are permanently necessary, then an eventual breakdown and return to capitalism is inevitable. The entire underlying material basis for capitalism must be destroyed, and destroyed down to its lowest roots, if capitalism is itself to be destroyed once and for all.
And here is where it is necessary to come to understand the nature of bourgeois “right”, and how it grows out of the commodity form itself. If you have commodities, if you have commodity exchange, if you have the extraction of surplus value (even if for a time it is somehow arranged that it is put to public uses), then eventually you will have a complete system of capitalism again, because capitalism grows out of those seeds.
What we revolutionary Marxists are trying to do is to transform society so that classes no longer exist, so that class struggle no longer needs to exist, and so that not even any “struggle” to prevent the development of classes again is necessary any more! There is a way to do this, but it requires uprooting capitalism completely, and on a world scale, down even to the existence of commodity markets and the commodity form. And this is why we are also determined opponents of any “market socialism” schemes.
The main motivation for favoring “market socialism” comes from those who can only conceive of socialism in the form it took in the Soviet Union, and view that failure as something that is inevitable in a “command economy”. Thus they are straining their brains to think of another way to make socialism work. Well, there is another way, a way that was outlined by Marx, Lenin and Mao. And that way is not the state capitalism of the revisionist Soviet Union nor is it “market socialism”. Those who champion that last scheme have just not investigated the problem deeply enough to understand the inherent flaws in their proposals.
For those seeking to look into the question of “market socialism” further, I suggest first seriously studying the great work by Marx, “The Critique of the Gotha Programme” (1875) which is available online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/index.htm.
“A view that was very dominant before the  crisis—that markets on their own were efficient and stable—no one is supporting that view now. So there really has been a change in the mindset.” —Joseph Stiglitz, a prominent American bourgeois economist, Business Week, March 14-20, 2011, p. 14.
[To be added.]
See also: FORCED MARRIAGE
MARSHALL, Alfred (1842-1924)
Important bourgeois economist who taught at Cambridge University and who greatly influenced a generation of British economists and beyond. Two of his famous students were Arthur Pigou and John Maynard Keynes. In some respects Marshall served as a bridge between classical economics and the new neoclassical bourgeois economics. In other respects he may be viewed as one of the key founders of neoclassical economics who helped merge many of the ideas of the “marginalists” into bourgeois economic theory and give these ideas a more mathematical form. Although trained as a mathematician, Marshall tried to keep the mathematical content of his writings to a minimum and relegate much of it to footnotes and appendices. Nevertheless, the original source of the notorious ultra-mathematization of modern bourgeois economics does in fact lie in the work of the marginalists and Alfred Marshall.
His influential textbook, Principles of Economics (1890), presented the new neoclassical reformulation of bourgeois economics in a fully integrated way, and became its first “bible”. However, in the years since then the remaining small elements of classical economic views in his work have mostly been discounted and ignored, as bourgeois economics moves ever further away from reality.
An unsuccessful attempt by the American general George C. Marshall to mediate a peace between the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Guomindang from 1945 to 1947, and thereby to protect American “interests” in China by trying to prevent a successful revolution by the Communists.
MARTIN, Bill (1956- )
An eclectic radical American intellectual who is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago. His philosophical views have been influenced by many diverse and conflicting sources, but especially by Kant and by modern Continental philosophers such as Sartre, Althusser, Derrida and Badiou. Overall we believe it is fair to call Martin a radical Kantian, especially in ethics.
For a number of years Martin was close to the Revolutionary Communist Party and served to lend some limited academic respectability to them through this association. With Bob Avakian he co-authored a book of philosophical conversations entitled Marxism and the Call of the Future (2005). A couple years later, however, Martin broke with the RCP and became a participant in the Kasama Project whose core consisted of others who also left the orbit of the RCP. Martin considers himself to be a “Maoist”, though he is at pains to reject a number of what he views as “dogmatic principles” of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. In his book Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation (2008), as in his joint work with Avakian and elsewhere, Martin argues for a Kantian re-envisioning of ethics within Marxism. Thus Martin has many similarities to the philosophical idealists within Marxism in Lenin’s day, who also called for a “return to Kant”.
Among Martin’s other works are several on rock music and one entitled Into the Wild: Badiou, actually-existing Maoism, and the “vital mix” of yesterday and tomorrow, which demonstrated how deeply enamored Martin is with Badiou.
[See also my “Report on a Discussion by Bill Martin & Raymond Lotta of a book by Martin and Bob Avakian” (April 2007), at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/BillMartin-RayLotta.htm —S.H.]
MARTOV, L. (or Julius) (Real name: Yuli Osipovich Tsederbaum) (1873-1923)
A prominent Russian Menshevik leader. He was born in Istanbul into a Russian Jewish “middle-class” family. Martov led the struggle against Lenin at the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party in 1903 (which was really its founding Congress). His “Mensheviks” (“minority”) were defeated on the issue of the composition of the editorial board of the Party publication Iskra [“Spark”], but won the vote on the issue of who should be allowed to be a member of the Party. (Lenin wanted a party of fully committed and dedicated revolutionaries; Martov wanted a party with much looser and broader membership rules.) This led to the split between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks (“majority”).
Martov, however, was generally on the “left” wing of the Mensheviks, and opposed Russian participation in World War I, which he agreed with Lenin was an imperialist war. He thus became the central leader of the “Menshevik Internationalist” faction, which opposed the main Menshevik party leadership. Martov also opposed the Mensheviks becoming part of the Provisional Government after the overthrow of the tsar, but was unable to stop them from doing so and from continuing their support for the war.
Martov was thus marginalized both within the overall R.S.D.L.P., and even within the Mensheviks. After the October Revolution, he became even more marginalized, and in 1920 legally emigrated to Germany where he died three years later. In his last few years he established a newspaper called Socialist Messenger which continued publication in Paris and then New York until the last of the Mensheviks abroad petered out. It is rumored that Lenin himself provided the initial money for Martov to set up this newspaper! If true, it would not be too surprising; Lenin thought that even the enemies of the people should still be allowed a small voice, as long as they were unable to corrupt the masses.
MARX, Karl (1818-1883)
The primary founder, along with Frederick Engels, of the science of society and social revolution which is now customarily known as Marxism.
[Much more to be added...]
“As to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to demonstrate: 1) that the existence of classes is merely linked to particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) that class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.” —Marx, Letter to Joseph Weydemeyer, March 5, 1852, Marx-Engels Selected Correspondence (Moscow: 1975), p. 64; in a slightly different translation in MECW 39:62.
“These two great discoveries, the materialist conception of history and the revelation of the secret of capitalistic production through surplus-value, we owe to Marx. With these discoveries socialism became a science. The next thing was to work out all its details and relations.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:27.
MARX — and Philosophy
As a young man Marx saw the need to study philosophy in order to begin to understand the world. Unlike most who do so, and once he felt he understood the basic points of philosophy (which are by no means inherently undecidable as bourgeois ideologists contend!), Marx then shifted his focus of interest into politics and political economy. Not such a bad personal trajectory!
“In 1837 [at the age of 19] Marx ceased his literary pursuits, having
come to the conclusion that he can make no progress in any branch of science, for example,
jurisprudence, without first studying philosophy. Indeed, as Engels was to write later,
if one wishes to develop and perfect the capacity for theoretical thought, ‘there is as
yet no other means than the study of previous philosophy.’
“Marx attempted a critical interpretation of the philosophy of Hegel, who then had a large following at Berlin University. Marx was both attracted and repelled by Hegel. He was deeply impressed by Hegel’s dialectic, by his attempt to grasp the world in its development, in motion, in the struggle of opposites. He recognized in Hegel a gigantic philosopher who had dared to draw into one philosophical system the entire development of the universe, the whole of science and art. However, this system was idealistic in that, for Hegel, the creator of the natural world was the ‘world spirit’, thus making the idea prime [primary] over matter. Marx began to doubt whether Hegel was right, and in order to resolve these doubts he turned to the source of philosophy, to the philosophers of Ancient Greece.
“From among the numerous philosophical trends of antiquity, Marx chooses to examine the ideas of Democritus and Epicurus. Both were materialists and moreover, developed the theory that matter is composed of basic, indivisible particles—atoms. The fact that Marx selected the philosophies of the major Greek atomists and materialists reveals the direction in which he was moving in his search for a new world view. The Hegelian system could not be superceded within the framework of idealism. No idealist philosophy could be of any help in this regard. Only the age-old materialist tradition could offer a solution.
“Marx chose the philosophy of Democritus and Epicurus as the theme of his doctor’s thesis, which he successfully completed in 1841. This thesis reveals that, while Marx has not yet adopted a fully materialist outlook, he is already dissatisfied with idealism. This work, together with the preparatory manuscripts, contains a profound criticism of Hegel and his reactionary followers, the so-called right-Hegelians. Marx also sharply criticizes the theoretical basis of religion, in particular the principles used to prove the existence of God and the immortality of the soul.
“In the last three years as a student, Marx moves from a struggle against religious hypocrisy and religious morality to a decisive rejection of religion. At that time, criticism of religion was one of the forms of protest against the feudal-monarchical system in Prussia, which had the blessing of the official church. Marx’s friends from the left-wing, more progressive followers of Hegel (the so-called Young Hegelians) became enthusiastic critics of religion and theology.
“[However,] purely theoretical speculation did not satisfy the young doctor of philosophy. He wished to combine philosophy with reality, that is, to take an active part in politics.”
—The Basics of Marxist-Leninist Theory, ed. by G. N. Volkov, (Moscow: Progress, 1979), pp. 14-15.
MARX — “Promethean Impulse” Attributed to Marx
“Critics of Marx have sometimes noted a so-called Promethean strain
in his work—a belief in Man’s sovereignty over Nature, along with a faith in limitless
human progress. There is indeed such a current in his writings, as one might expect
from a nineteenth-century European intellectual. There was little concern with plastic
bags and carbon emissions around 1860. Besides, Nature sometimes needs to be subjugated.
Unless we build a lot of seawalls pretty quickly, we are in danger of losing Bangladesh.
Typhoid jabs are an exercise of human sovereignty over Nature. So are bridges and brain
surgery. Milking cows and building cities mean harnessing Nature to our own ends. The
idea that we should never seek to get the better of Nature is sentimental nonsense. Yet
even if we do need to get the better of it from time to time, we can do so only by that
sensitive attunement to its inner workings known as science.
“Marx himself sees this sentimentalism (‘a childish attitude to nature,’ as he calls it) as reflecting a superstitious stance to the natural world, in which we bow down before it as a superior power; and this mystified relation to our surroundings reappears in modern times as what he calls the fetishism of commodities. Once again, our lives are determined by alien powers, dead bits of matter which have been imbued with a tyrannical form of life....
“As early as The German Ideology, Marx is to be found including geographical and climatic factors in social analysis. All historical analysis, he declares, ‘must set out from these natural bases and their modification in the course of history through the action of men.’ He writes in Capital of ‘socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their material interchange with nature and bringing it under common control, instead of allowing it to rule them as a blind force.’ [Vol. 3, Int’l Publishers ed., 1967, p. 102.] ‘Interchange’ rather than lordship, rational control rather than bullying dominion, is what is at stake. In any case, Marx’s Prometheus (he was his favorite classical character) is less a bullish champion of technology than a political rebel. For Marx, as for Dante, Milton, Goethe, Blake, Beethoven and Byron, Prometheus represents revolution, creative energy and a revolt against the gods.
“The charge that Marx is just another Enlightenment rationalist out to plunder Nature in the name of Man is quite false. Few Victorian thinkers have so strikingly prefigured modern environmentalism.”
—Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right (2011), pp. 226-8.
1. [As used by Marxists-Leninists-Maoists:] The science of society and social revolution, as originally established by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and elaborated and extended by many others, especially V. I. Lenin and Mao Zedong. Short-hand for Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
2. [As used by non-Marxists:] The ideas of Karl Marx specifically (and sometimes Engels), as interpreted and distorted by bourgeois professors and other anti-Marxist ideologists.
See also: MARXIST THEORY
MARXISM AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION (Stalin)
See: STALIN—Marxism and the National Question
MARXISM — As a Religion
There are several important things to discuss in this connection: 1) The claim by anti-Marxists (or the just plain ignorant) that Marxism is really just another religion in the same way that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion is; and why this claim is simply not true. 2) The fact that some people who call themselves Marxists do in actuality treat Marxism as a religion. And, 3) The fact that sometimes actual scientific Marxists have spoken in rather poetic terms of Marxism as a religion, which in part acknowledges that at least sections of the masses look at Marxism in this way. We will discuss each of these three issues in turn:
1) Marxism is the science of social revolution and, as a science, it can in no way be considered a religion: Many people in contemporary bourgeois society do not at all understand the difference between science and non-scientific systems of belief, such as religions. For them, all “belief systems” are more or less the same sort of thing. This shows their ignorance of science and the scientific method. Belief can be founded on what others just tell you (such as priests), on what you were raised to believe, or on the most fanciful ideas that you came across somewhere. That sort of belief is religious, or at least genuinely akin to religious belief. But belief can also be founded on careful thought and investigation, on the summation of wide experience of not only your own but of many other people as well, and on tests of ideas through social practice and scientific experiment. A body of scientific theory can be developed in that way, and this has been done in the case of Marxism. Marxist principles (beliefs) are always subject to rejection or revision if further investigation and social experience requires us to do this. And indeed, Marxism has on many occasions been modified or extended based on new experience in the world revolutionary struggle. [See however: “RUPTURES” IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARXISM] Thus viewing the theory of revolutionary Marxism (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) as a “religion” is either a mark of complete ignorance, or else an outright bourgeois slander.
2) Unfortunately, however, some people who call themselves Marxists do in fact tend to partially approach Marxist scientific theory in sort of a religious way: This sorry fact reflects a situation in present society where people are not trained to be scientific in general. It is dangerous for the capitalist ruling class to promote skepticism in the educational system they control, or to encourage thoughtful scientific investigation in any sphere, and especially so with regard to human society. Even in the high schools where students are supposely learning something about the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology, what the students are mostly actually taught are a few of the established facts and principles that these sciences have discovered in the past. It is extremely rare for any attention whatsoever to be paid to learning the scientific method, let alone to inculcating the basic scientific approach to the investigation of the world into those students. Even at the college level, education in the scientific method is woefully weak. Thus it is no surprise that many young people, when they first turn to revolution, tend to view Marxist theory in the same way they view the principles of chemistry and biology that they have hopefully been exposed to; i.e., as a body of doctrine simply to be memorized.
Engels once pointed out that since socialism had become a science it must be pursued as a science—that is, it must be studied. [See Engels quote in: REVOLUTIONARY THEORY.] And that is definitely true. But the full education of revolutionary Marxists also requires the internalization of the scientific method, and the transformation of any lingering religious approach to the body of Marxist theory into a genuinely scientific approach toward it.
3) On a very few occasions genuine Marxists have spoken, in sort of a loose or poetic fashion, of Marxism as a “religion”: How do we account for this?
Mao once remarked that “Not to have a correct political orientation is like not having a soul.” [SW 5:405] But did that mean that Mao actually believed in “souls” in the religious sense? Of course not! Similarly, in his conversation with the French intellectual, André Malraux in 1965, Mao said:
“There is what one sees, and what one doesn’t see. Men do not like to bear
the burden of the Revolution throughout their lives. When I said ‘Chinese Marxism is the
religion of the people,’ I meant—but do you know how many communists there are in the
countryside? One per cent!—I meant that the communists express the Chinese people in a real
way if they remain faithful to the work upon which the whole of China has embarked as if on
another Long March. When we say, ‘We are the Sons of the People,’ China understands it as
she understood the phrase ‘Son of Heaven.’ The People has taken the place of the ancestors.
The People, not the victorious Communist party.
“The revolution freed the wife from her husband, the son from his father, the farmer from his overlord. But for the benefit of collectivity. The individualism of the West has no roots among the Chinese masses. The hope of transformation, on the other hand, is a very powerful sentiment. A husband must stop beating his wife in order to become a different man, who will be a member of the party, or simply of his people’s commune, or of those which the army will set free: ‘Gods are all right for the rich; the poor have the Eighth Route Army.’” —Mao, quoted in Donald MacInnis, Religious Policy and Practice in Communist China (1972), pp. 17-18.
[To be added...]
MARXISM-LENINISM — The Science Of
See: SCIENCE OF REVOLUTIONARY MARXISM (MLM)
[To be added...]
MARXISM-LENINISM-MAOISM — Development Of
[To be added...]
See also: “RUPTURES” IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARXISM
See: Raya DUNAYEVSKAYA
See also: TECHNICAL TERMS
MARXIST-LENINIST CLASS INTEREST THEORY OF ETHICS
See: CLASS INTEREST THEORY OF ETHICS
See also: MARXISM, REVOLUTIONARY THEORY
“The world’s greatest movement for liberation of the oppressed class, the most revolutionary class in history, is impossible without a revolutionary theory. That theory cannot be thought up. It grows out of the sum total of the revolutionary experience and the revolutionary thinking of all countries in the world. Such a theory has developed since the second half of the nineteenth century. It is known as Marxism. One cannot be a socialist, a revolutionary Social-Democrat, without participating, in the measure of one’s powers, in developing and applying that theory, and without waging a ruthless struggle today against the mutilation of this theory by Plekhanov, Kautsky, and Co.” —Lenin, “The Voice of an Honest French Socialist” (1915), LCW 21:354.
MARXIST THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
See: THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE—Marxist
MASLOW, Abraham H. (1908-70)
A prominent American bourgeois psychologist who promoted a theory he called “self-actualization” which he said he derived from studying those he considered to be well-functioning individuals. According to this theory there is a hierarchy of human needs each of which must be met before a person can achieve his or her full potential. These needs are, starting with the most fundamental: physiological, security, love and belonging, esteem and status, and then “actualization” (or the desire “to be all that you can be”, as the recent U.S. Army slogan puts it). Maslow seemed not to understand at all that there is something very bourgeois in focusing on one’s own individual self-cultivation, on one’s own career, on one’s own personal “accomplishments”, and—indeed—on oneself rather than on important human goals and the welfare of others!
Maslow is often considered to be the leader of the so-called “Third Force” in the psychological field of his era; i.e., as an alternative to both Freudianism and behaviorism. This alternative is often called “humanist psychology”, and is clearly influenced by bourgeois humanism, bourgeois individualism and also existentialism. However, more recent psychology, especially cognitive psychology, seems to have largely shed itself of all three of these earlier “forces”. Maslow and his theories are now often viewed as unduly reflecting his own society and class milieu, and are seldom referenced in more recent psychological research.
“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class
antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the
condition for the free development of all.” —Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto
(1848), Chapter 2, final sentence.
[Here we see the communist approach, of focusing not on our individual self-cultivation, but rather upon creating a better society so that everyone can be “all that they can be”, and in a way that is not at the expense of the welfare of others! —S.H.]
Rare, but severe and nearly simultaneous die-offs of vast numbers of species of animals and plants. The most famous such extinction event brought the Cretaceous Period to an end, wiping out the dinosaurs. This is now generally thought to be due to the collision of a large asteroid or comet with the Earth some 65 million years ago. However, today there is another mass extinction episode in progress, though perhaps not quite as swift as that which wiped out the dinosaurs. This is the Great Capitalist Mass Extinction, which—unlike previous mass extinctions which were brought about by natural events—is due to the horribly irresponsible mismanagement of the world by the ruling capitalist class.
|The Great Mass Extinction Episodes in the History of the Earth|
|Extinction Episode||Millions of
|Ordovician||440||Devastated early marine fauna.|
|Devonian||370||Devastated early marine fauna; eliminated |
more than 20% of marine families.
|Permo-Triassic||250||Possibly the worst extinction event in Earth |
history. More than 50% of families died out.
|End-Triassic||202||50% of genera eliminated.|
|65||50% of genera eliminated, including |
the dinosaurs. Caused by asteroid or comet.
|Present Time||Some notable human-caused extinctions over past |
12,000 years, but huge qualitative increase in
extinctions occurring right now.
[Source: Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth, (NY: Copernicus |
Books, 2004), pp. 179-183, with additional comments added.]
“MASS INCIDENTS” [In China]
This is the euphemism being used in present day capitalist China for the rapidly growing number of incidents of collective protest, workers’ strikes, local refusals by the people to follow the orders of the authorities, and other forms of social unrest. One Chinese sociologist, Sun Liping, estimated the number of “mass incidents” in 2010 as 180,000.
There are many specific reasons for the huge growth in the number of such events, including the typically very low pay of workers, the exceedingly long hours of work, the dangerous working conditions, the lack of social services, the especially poor treatment of migrant workers from the countryside, the frequent outright theft of land from peasants, the high-handedness of the police and authorities, widespread political corruption, worsening inflation, and many other such things. On occasion the authorities will be forced to back down and grant some concessions, but the more typical response is to further tighten “public security” (expanded police forces and physical control over the masses). The Chinese government is expanding its expenditure for “domestic security” by 12% in 2012 over the already high level in 2011, to a total of $111 billion. (This is $5 billion more than China will be spending on its military budget in 2012!) [Figures from the NY Times, May 10, 2012.]
This increasing reliance on state violence to control the masses will of course mean that many future “mass incidents” will themselves be much more serious and much more violent. There are very good reasons for the growing anxiety of the Chinese leaders about the ever increasing discontent among not only the workers and peasants, but even among the new “middle class”.
“Scholars say the number of ‘mass incidents’—a vaguely defined official measure of discontent that includes spontaneous citizen protests—has doubled since 2005. The government stopped publicly reporting the total in 2006.” —Michael Wines, “As China Talks of Change, Fear Rises on the Risks”, New York Times, July 17, 2012.
The method of revolutionary leadership summarized by the phrase “from the masses, to the masses”.
“Party committees at all levels must abide by the directions given by Chairman Mao over the years, namely that they should thoroughly apply the mass line of ‘from the masses and to the masses’ and that they should be pupils before they become teachers. They should try to avoid being one-sided or narrow. They should foster materialist dialectics and oppose metaphysics and scholasticism.” —From “Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” (Adopted Aug. 8, 1966), Peking Review, #33, Aug. 12, 1966, p. 11. [This famous document was prepared under the direct supervision of Mao and thus certainly shows what he himself meant by “the mass line”.]
“The mass line is the primary method of revolutionary leadership of the masses, which is employed by the most conscious and best organized section of the masses, the proletarian party. It is a reiterative method, applied over and over again, which step by step advances the interests of the masses, and in particular their central interest within bourgeois society, namely, advancing towards proletarian revolution. Each iteration may be viewed as a three step process: 1) gathering the diverse ideas of the masses; 2) processing or concentrating these ideas from the perspective of revolutionary Marxism, in light of the long-term, ultimate interests of the masses (which the masses themselves may sometimes only dimly perceive), and in light of a scientific analysis of the objective situation; and 3) returning these concentrated ideas to the masses in the form of a political line which will actually advance the mass struggle toward revolution. Because the mass line starts with the diverse ideas of the masses, and returns the concentrated ideas to the masses, it is also known as the method of ‘from the masses, to the masses’. Though implicit in Marxism from the beginning, the mass line was raised to the level of conscious theory primarily by Mao Zedong.” —Scott H., The Mass Line and the American Revolutionary Movement, Chapter 43.
See also: MASS PERSPECTIVE below, and ALGORITHM, WILL OF THE PEOPLE
“A mass perspective is a point of view regarding the masses
which recognizes: 1) That the masses are the makers of history, and that revolution
can only be made by the masses themselves; 2) That the masses must come to see through
their own experience and struggle that revolution is necessary; and 3) That the
proletarian party must join up with the masses in their existing struggles, bring
revolutionary consciousness into these struggles, and lead them in a way which brings
the masses ever closer to revolution. A mass perspective is based on the fundamental
Marxist notion that a revolution must be made by a revolutionary people, that a
revolutionary people must develop from a non-revolutionary people, and that the people
change from the one to the other through their own revolutionizing practice.
“The relation between the mass line and a mass perspective is simply that only those with a mass perspective will see much need or use for the mass line. It is possible to have some notion of the mass line technique, and yet fail to give it any real attention because of a weak mass perspective. On the other hand, it is also possible to have a mass perspective and still be more or less ignorant of the great Marxist theory of the mass line.
“The mass line and a mass perspective are nevertheless best viewed as intimately related, as integrated aspects of the Marxist approach toward the masses and revolution. I have found the most felicitous phrase for both aspects together is ‘the mass line and its associated mass perspective’.” —Scott H., The Mass Line and the American Revolutionary Movement, Chapter 43.
See also: SECTARIAN
“We Communists ought to face the world and brave the storm, the great world of mass struggle and the mighty storm of mass struggle.” —Mao, “Get Organized!”.
[To be added...]
See also below and: PEOPLE, The
MASSES — Shortcomings Of
“The masses too have shortcomings, which should be overcome by criticism and self-criticism within the people’s own ranks, and such criticism and self-criticism is also one of the most important tasks of literature and art. But this should not be regarded as any sort of ‘exposure of the people’. As for the people, the question is basically one of education and of raising their level. Only counter-revolutionary writers and artists describe the people as ‘born fools’ and the revolutionary masses as ‘tyrannical mobs’.” —Mao, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (May 1942), SW 3:91-92.
MATCHING SKILLS AND TASKS
In any collective endeavor the best results can be achieved if the various sub-tasks to be done are assigned to, or are taken on by, the most appropriate people. That is to say, it is important to match people’s skills as best we can to the tasks needing to be done.
It is surprising how often this obvious principle goes unappreciated by managers in capitalist corporations! Since most often they are not workers themselves (and often never have been), bourgeois managers frequently are ignorant of the specific skills that are required to accomplish some task, and are often also ignorant of the different sets of skills that individual workers possess. Thus they tend to view “their” workers as interchangeable parts.
Unfortunately, this tendency can also exist within revolutionary parties, or at a socialist factory in a revolutionary society. One of the many important reasons we need workers’ participation in management under socialism is to avoid this problem. Similarly, this is one of the important reasons we need to avoid commandism and arbitrary decision making, without consultation among comrades, within the revolutionary movement.
“A worker-agitator who is at all gifted and ‘promising’ must not be
left to work eleven hours a day in a factory. We must arrange that he be maintained
by the Party; that he may go underground in good time; that he change the place of
his activity, if he is to enlarge his experience, widen his outlook, and be able to
hold out for at least a few years in the struggle against the gendarmes. As the
spontaneous rise of their movement becomes broader and deeper, the working-class
masses promote from their ranks not only an increasing number of talented agitators,
but also talented organizers, propagandists, and ‘practical workers’ in the best
sense of the term...” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), chapter 4, section D,
[As Lenin implies here, we must seek out and further develop the skills of our comrades and of the masses, and help them put those skills and capabilities to the best use in promoting the revolution! —Ed.]
Most often the term ‘material interests’ means economic interests, including wages, benefits and economic security. Non-material interests that people have include such things as friendship, rewarding social interactions, love, leisure time activities and pursuits, sports, enjoying good health, etc.
[To be added...]
MATERIALISM — Ancient
See: IONIAN SCHOOL
MATERIALISM VS. IDEALISM
This is the basic question, and the most fundamental dispute, in the entire history of philosophy. Which is primary and which depends on the other: Matter or mind? For us materialists, the answer is completely obvious: the material world exists independently of anyone’s mental ideas and thoughts of it, and mind and mental phenomena are merely a set of functional characteristics of certain complex organizations of matter (i.e., brains).
See also: IDEALISM
“The spirit of materialism is intolerable to the idealist!!” —a wonderfully ironic statement by Lenin while speaking specifically of Hegel’s discussion of Democritus, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:267.
“Teacher: Si Fu, name the basic questions of philosophy.
“Si Fu: Are things external to us, self-sufficient, independent of us, or are things in us, dependent on us, non-existent without us?
“Teacher: Which opinion is the correct one?
“Si Fu: There has been no decision about it....
“Teacher: Why does the question remain unresolved?
“Si Fu: The Congress which was to have made the decision took place two hundred years ago at Mi Sang monastery, which lies on the bank of the Yellow River. The question was: Is the Yellow River real or does it exist only in people’s heads? But during the Congress the snow thawed in the mountains and swept away the Mi Sang monastery with all the participants in the Congress. So the proof that things exist externally to us, self-sufficiently, independently of us was not finished....”
—Bertolt Brecht, Turandot, Scene 4A.
MATERIALISM AND EMPIRIO-CRITICISM [Book]
This is a great philosophical work by Lenin which defends and develops scientific materialism. It was written in 1908 and first published in May 1909. Its purpose was to combat various Kantian, religious and other idealist doctrines which were becoming popular among a certain strata of the Russian revolutionary movement, including among some of the Bolsheviks.
In the late 19th century, physics entered into a period of crisis with the discovery of radioactivity and other anomalies, and the advent of the earliest quantum-related speculations. Thus some of the materialist assumptions, that most physicists had explicitly or tacitly assumed, came into question, especially by scientists and philosophers who had been strongly influenced by Kant or early forms of positivism. These idealist theories spread beyond physics and philosophy, and led to a resurgence of subjective idealism among intellectuals. It was the intrusion of this trend into the revolutionary movement itself that alarmed Lenin, and moved him to write this book.
Since at the beginning of the 21st century Kantianism and various other forms of philosophical idealism are once again quite rampant, even among some philosophers who claim to be Marxists or influenced by Marxism, and since these people are misleading many young revolutionaries in the universities, it is all the more important to once again promote the serious study of Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.
“The book is the outcome of a prodigious amount of creative scientific
research carried out by Lenin during nine months. His main work on the book was carried
out in Geneva libraries, but in order to obtain a detailed knowledge of the modern
literature of philosophy and natural science he went in May 1908 to London, where he
worked for about a month in the library of the British Museum. The list of sources
quoted or mentioned by Lenin in his book exceeds 200 titles.
“In December 1908 Lenin went from Geneva to Paris where he worked until April 1909 on correcting the proofs of his book. He had to agree to tone down some passages of the work so as not to give the tsarist censorship an excuse for prohibiting its publication. It was published in Russia under great difficulties. Lenin insisted on the speedy issue of the book, stressing that ‘not only literary but also serious political obligations’ were involved in its publication.
“Lenin’s work Materialism and Empirio-criticism played a decisive part in combating the Machist revision of Marxism. It enabled the philosophical ideas of Marxism to spread widely among the mass of party members and helped the party activists and progressive workers to master dialectical and historical materialism.
“This classical work of Lenin’s has achieved a wide circulation in many countries, and has been published in over 20 languages.” —Note 11, LCW 14 .
“Of this book by Lenin, A. A. Zhdanov wrote that ‘every sentence is like
a piercing sword, annihilating an opponent.’ It is a devastating attack against modern
idealism, a brilliant defence of the materialist standpoint, and a development of the
basic ideas of dialectical materialism in the light of scientific discovery.
“It was written in 1908 in the period following the defeat of the 1905-7 Revolution in Russia. The reader should consult the History of the C.P.S.U.(B), Chapter IV, Section I, in order to understand the background.
“It was a time of great difficulty for the revolutionary working class movement in Russia. Reaction was making savage attacks upon the working class, and with this went an ideological offensive against Marxism, which fashionable writers represented as being exploded and ‘out of date.’ This situation affected a group of the party intellectuals. They began to write books and articles claiming to ‘improve’ Marxism and to ‘bring it up to date’ in the light of ‘modern science,’ but in reality attacking its entire theoretical foundations.
“Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism was written against this group. It safeguarded the theoretical treasure of Marxism from the revisionists and renegades. But more than that, it provided a new materialist generalization of everything important and essential acquired by science, and especially the natural sciences, since Engels’ death.
“The reader unused to philosophical literature will find an initial difficulty in understanding some of the terms used in this book, and the references to various bourgeois philosophers and scientists. The term ‘Empirio-Criticism’ is used to denote a whole sect of modern idealists. Lenin shows that their theories are copied from those of the Anglo-Irish philosopher, George Berkeley (1684-1753), who taught that material things have no real existence and that nothing exists but the sensations in our own minds; from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who taught that we can have no knowledge of ‘things-in-themselves,’ which are mysterious and unknowable; and from the Austrian scientist and philosopher Ernst Mach (1838-1916), who taught that bodies were nothing but ‘complexes of sensations.’ Lenin’s references to and quotations from these philosophers and their modern followers are, however, sufficiently detailed for the reader who follows the argument attentively to understand what it is all about, even without prior knowledge.
“In Materialism and Empirio-Criticism is contained:
“1. A devastating exposure of the idealism of the modern ‘philosophy of science’ which pretends that matter existing outside us is an abstraction and that what ‘really’ exists consists of ‘complexes of sensations.’
“Ridiculing the ‘scientific’ pretensions of this philosophy, Lenin asks:
“‘Did Nature exist prior to man?’
“‘Does Man think with the help of the brain?’
“Science answers ‘Yes’ to both questions; and that means that matter objectively exists independent of and prior to human consciousness and sensation.
“2. The clear assertion and explanation of the most important features of the materialist conception of nature, in particular—
The practical test of knowledge;
The relationship of relative and absolute truth;
The absolute existence of matter, as the objective reality given to man in his sensations;
The objective validity of causality and causal laws;
The objectivity of space and time, as forms of all being.
“3. The analysis of the crisis in modern physics, which arises from the contradiction between new discoveries and the mechanistic ideas of ‘classical’ physics. Lenin shows how two trends arise in physics, a materialist and an idealist trend. He exposes the sham pretensions of the latter and demonstrates that ‘modern physics is in travail; it is giving birth to dialectical materialism.’
“4. The demonstration of the partisan character of all philosophy, of the irreconcilability of the struggle of materialism against idealism. Lenin shows that Marxism is materialism, irreconcilably opposed to every form of idealism and of attempted compromise between materialism and idealism.” —Maurice Cornforth, Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (1952), pp. 27-28.
MATERIALIST CONCEPTION OF HISTORY
See: HISTORICAL MATERIALISM, SOCIAL SCIENCE
A benefit for working women that is now required of employers in most countries, though the length and amounts of the benefits are very commonly quite inadequate. A few of the most politically backward countries—most notably the U.S.—have no requirement for employers to provide maternity leave at all!
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” —Albert Einstein, “Geometry and Experience”, Address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, 1921.
“Logically” this should mean the mathematical development of any form of logic. In practice, in bourgeois society, it usually just means the mathematical development of the various kinds of deductive logic. It is almost always propounded in axiomatic form, that is, along the same lines as geometry usually is, with axioms, postulates, theorems, proofs, and so forth. As with most of modern mathematics, it can soon become highly abstruse to the point where only specialists can understand the more complex arguments and proofs.
MATHEMATICAL OBJECT (or ENTITY)
This category includes the various kinds of numbers (natural numbers such as 1, 2, 3...), integers, real numbers (i.e., numbers that can be represented as a ratio or fraction of two integers), complex numbers, vectors, etc., and the various types of geometric shapes (points, lines, planes, triangles, circles, pentagons, cubes, spheres, etc.), and so forth. All of these kinds of entities are abstractions; that is, they are concepts or ideal figures that have been abstracted out of objects or collections that approximate them in some way in the physical world.
From pairs of things we have abstracted the concept of the number 2; from trios we have abstracted the number 3; from very tiny specks and motes we have abstracted the concept of a mathematical point; from things in a row or more or less straight scratches and marks we have abstracted the concept of a straight line. Once a stock of such elementary abstractions have been formed we can extend them and combine them. Thus the number 31 can be comprehended even if we have never directly abstracted that particular number from varying collections of 31 items. A regular equilateral 73-sided two-dimensional figure can be contemplated (and recognized to approximate a circle) even if we have never actually seen a close physical approximation of such a figure.
In the philosophy of mathematics there have been many and continuing disputes about the actual (“ontological”) nature of mathematical objects, along with disputes about the nature of abstractions in general. In what sense can these entities be said to “exist”? Do they form part of “reality”, even though they are not physical things? Such questions arise because people were (and often still are) very confused by the nature of abstraction. As usual in philosophy, the two big camps are materialism and idealism. Mathematical idealism is often termed mathematical Platonism (see entry below).
We materialists view abstraction as being an important and necessary way for human beings to think about and understand the world, meaning primarily the physical world and human society. Our ability to form abstractions evolved in our species (and to lesser degrees in other animal species on Earth) because this promoted our survival. But we grant that some of the systems of abstractions we have created are so complex, and the interrelationships among the different abstract elements are sometimes so difficult to immediately grasp, that the thorough investigation of these abstract realms often requires a tremendous amount of concentrated thought. This is especially the case in mathematics. This is the “world of abstractions” that mathematicians (and others) often imagine to be on an ontological par with the physical world.
There are indeed actual logical relationships between mathematical objects, relationships which are not themselves arbitrary or “mere human inventions”, but real relationships that derive from the definitions and logical structure of those systems of abstract mathematical objects. On the one hand, humans did create these abstract mathematical objects in their minds, but the mathematical objects they created have objective characteristics. Other intelligent life somewhere in the universe, which creates those same abstract mathematical objects, will come to the same mathematical conclusions about them as we do—because the same logical relationships will hold between those same abstract elements. We find that the sum of the interior angles of a two-dimensional Euclidean triangle add up to 180 degrees, and so will they.
The branches of mathematics that we human beings have created are not themselves “part” of the universe (except in the sense that the representations of this mathematics, whether on paper or in our brains, has a physical basis). If you list all the things that exist in the universe, the number 2 will not be among them along with trees and chairs. But on the other hand, the systems of mathematical abstraction do have objective logical relationships within them. The thorough exploration of those objective logical relationships between these abstract mathematical “objects” is what mathematics is all about.
One of a number of related views about the nature of mathematical “objects” (such as numbers, points, lines, and triangles) and their properties and inter-relationships, which are (or seem to be) along the lines of Platonism in general. That is, ideas about mathematical abstractions which are examples of philosophical idealism.
Platonists are philosophical idealists, who hold that ideas (rather than matter) are primary in the world. Since mathematics is the exploration of the logical interrelationships between certain sorts of abstractions (relating primarily to quantity and form), and since abstractions are themselves ideas, mathematicians have very often been seduced by Platonism. They often view abstract entities such as numbers and geometric shapes as having an independent existence from the physical world (in addition to physical objects). For example, the great British number theorist G. H. Hardy wrote:
“For me, and I suppose for most mathematicians, there is another reality [besides ‘physical reality’ —SH], which I will call ‘mathematical reality’.... I believe that mathematical reality lies outside us, that our function is to discover or observe it.” —G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology (Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 123.]
Martin Gardner, the expert on mathematical games, put it this way in explaining why he is an “unashamed Platonist” when it comes to mathematics:
“If all sentient beings in the universe disappeared, there would remain a sense in which mathematical objects and theorems would continue to exist even though there would be no one around to write or talk about them. Huge prime numbers would continue to be prime even if no one had proved them prime.” —Martin Gardner, When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish (2009)]
The idealist flaw in the thinking here is that while prime numbers will still be prime
(whether or not anyone has yet proven this for particular numbers), numbers are
nevertheless not part of the world in the sense that atoms and planets and people are.
Numbers are intellectual abstractions, or mental constructs. And whether a number is prime
or not is a matter of a certain type of logical relationship of that number to the other
The “worldly existence” of ideas, abstractions, and indeed even numbers and geometric shapes, depends on the prior existence of matter, if only in the form of thinkers who can generate such abstractions in their mind/brain.
MATHEMATICS — And the World
[To be added... ]
See also: MATHEMATICAL LAWS
“Profound study of nature is the most fertile source of mathematical discoveries.” —Joseph Fourier (1768-1830), The Analytic Theory of Heat (1822).
“Mathematicians are only dealing with the structure of reasoning,
and they do not really care what they are talking about. They do not even need to
know what they are talking about.... But the physicist has meaning to all his
phrases.... In physics, you have to have an understanding of the connection of words
to the real world.” —Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law.
[Although there is some truth to these claims about mathematics, especially with regard to the ever more abstract forms of modern mathematics, in the quote below Engels reminds us that mathematics itself got its start in the form of abstractions from the real world. —Ed.]
“But it is not at all true that in pure mathematics the mind deals only with its own creations and imaginations. The concepts of number and figure have not been derived from any source other than the world of reality. The ten fingers on which men learnt to count, that is, to perform the first arithmetical operation, are anything but a free creation of the mind. Counting requires not only objects that can be counted, but also the ability to exclude all properties of the objects considered except their number—and this ability is the product of a long historical development based on experience.... Like all other sciences, mathematics arose out of the needs of men: from the measurement of land and the content of vessels, from the computation of time and from mechanics. But, as in every department of thought, at a certain stage of development the laws, which were abstracted from the real world, become divorced from the real world, and are set up against it as something independent, as laws coming from outside, to which the world has to conform. That is how things happened in society and in the state, and in this way, and not otherwise, pure mathematics was subsequently applied to the world, although it is borrowed from this same world and represents only one part of its forms of interconnection—and it is only just because of this that it can be applied at all.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:37.
1. [In materialist philosophy:] All the physical constituents of reality, including matter in the physics sense (see below) and also energy. But this category does not include mind and mental phenomena, which are special ways of looking at the functioning of certain complex organizations of matter (e.g., brains).
“[T]he sole ‘property’ of matter with whose recognition philosophical materialism is bound up is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside the mind.” —Lenin, “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism” (1908), LCW 14:260-1.
2. [In physics:] The substance from which physical objects are composed; the material substance that is generally considered to occupy space, have mass (“weight”), and which most prominently exists in the form of atoms and their constituent parts (protons, neutrons and electrons). Matter in this sense is now known to be interconvertable with energy, and this is one reason why there needs to be the broader philosophical sense of the term ‘matter’ as well. Within contemporary physics there are several categories of matter, including ordinary matter (of which everyday objects are composed), anti-matter, and the hypothesized dark matter.
See: MORAL MAXIM
A set of four key equations which collectively organize and describe electromagnetism. The four individual laws which these equations sum up were actually discovered earlier by other scientists, but in 1861-62 James Clerk Maxwell brought these laws together in mathematical form in a way which fully established the unity of electricity and magnetism in a clearer and more profound theoretical way. Maxwell’s Equations have been formulated in various ways, but the modern method is to formulate them in terms of partial differential equations in vector calculus, as shown in the graphic at the right. These four equations represent in turn:
1. Gauss’s Law of Electricity: The electric flux leaving a volume is proportional to the charge inside.
2. Gauss’s Law of Magnetism: No magnetic monopoles exist; the total magnetic flux through a closed surface is zero.
3. Faraday’s Law of Induction: The voltage induced in a closed loop is proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic flux that the loop encloses.
4. Ampère’s Circuital Law with Maxwell’s extension: The magnetic field induced around a closed loop is proportional to the electric current plus displacement current (rate of change of the electric field) that the loop encloses.
A more thorough (and much more technical) discussion of Maxwell’s Equations is available in the Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell%27s_equations
“Although Maxwell’s equations are relatively simple, they daringly reorganize our perception of nature, unifying electricity and magnetism and linking geometry, topology and physics. They are essential to understanding the surrounding world. And as the first field equations, they not only showed scientists a new way of approaching physics but also took them on the first step towards a unification of the fundamental forces of nature.” —Robert P. Crease, “The Greatest Equations Ever”, Physics World, Oct. 2004, online at: http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/17/10/2/1
“The equations of electricity and magnetism that are today known as Maxwell’s equations are not the equations originally written down by Maxwell; they are equations that physicists settled on after decades of subsequent work by other physicists, notably the English scientist Oliver Heaviside. They are understood today to be an approximation that is valid in a limited context (that of weak, slowly varying electric and magnetic fields), but in this form and in this limited context, they have survived for a century and may be expected to survive indefinitely.” —Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize winning physicist, “Sokal’s Hoax”, New York Review of Books, Vol. XLIII, No. 13, pp. 11-15, Aug. 8, 1996.
International Worker’s Day: The preeminent holiday of the international working class celebrated on May first each year.
“MAY FIFTEEN INCIDENT” [Japan, 1932]
“In October 1931, Japan’s reactionary military figures and Right-wing
militarists masterminded a coup with the aim of reorganizing the government. They intended
to install General Sadao Araki as Prime Minister to head a dictatorial military regime,
but their plan fell flat. In spite of that, pressure from the army which called for speeding
up militarization became all the more intense. Towards the end of the year, Tsuyoshi Inukai,
boss of the ‘Constitutional Political Friend’s Party’ (Seiyukai), came into power,
and Sadao Araki was appointed Minister of War. In 1932, people of all strata in Japan were
getting increasingly discontented with the government’s reactionary home and foreign
policies. Workers and peasants rose in struggle wave upon wave. Confronted with this
situation, the panic-stricken reactionary ruling circles tried to strengthen their fascist
“On May 15, 1932, the Right-wing fascist group ‘Blood Pledge Society’ (Ketsumeidan), with the support of other reactionary organizations, sparked off terrorist activities with another incident. A group of young army and navy officers mustered by them broke into the residence of Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai and shot him. They also attacked the Metropolitan Police Agency. The incident was designed to force the government to proclaim martial law so that a military cabinet may be formed and a militarist system instituted. After the death of Inukai, Admiral Makoto Saito, former Governor of Korea, formed a cabinet, again with Sadao Araki holding the portfolio of War Minister. While quickening the tempo of militarization, the Saito cabinet made big efforts to crack down on the people. Communists and progressives were arrested and persecuted on a mass scale. On October 30, 1932 alone, 1,400 were arrested. The Japanese people so came under a reign of fascist terror worse than ever.” —For Your Reference note, Peking Review, #50, Dec. 11, 1970, p. 14.
MAY FOURTH MOVEMENT
An important radical nationalist movement of Chinese students and intellectuals which grew out of demonstrations by students at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on May 4, 1919. This demonstration condemned both the unfair terms of the Versailles Treaty ending World War I which granted significant territorial concessions from China to Japan, and also the weak warlord government in control of Beijing which went along with this imperialist deal.
“‘May 4’ refers to May 4, 1919, when the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal
revolutionary movement broke out. In the first half of that year, Britain, France, the
United States, Japan, Italy and other imperialist countries that had emerged victorious
from World War I held a conference in Paris to divide the booty. A decision was adopted
which stipulated that Japan would take over all the privileges previously held by Germany
in China’s Shantung Province. On May 4 that year, the students in Peking took the lead
and held rallies and demonstrations to protest against the decision. When the government
of the Northern Warlords resorted to suppression, the Peking students suspended classes
in protest. Students in other parts of the country quickly rose to express their
solidarity. The Northern Warlord government made mass arrests in Peking, which aroused
still greater indignation among the people of the whole nation. The patriotic movement
so far participated [in] mainly by the intellectuals rapidly developed into a nationwide
movement participated [in] by the proletariat, petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie. As the
patriotic movement surged ahead, the new cultural movement against feudalism and for
science and democracy unfolded prior to the May 4th Movement developed into a mammoth
revolutionary cultural movement with the propagation of Marxism-Leninism as its main
“After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, May 4 was officially proclaimed China’s Youth Day.” —Footnote in Peking Review, vol. 19, #22, p. 12, May 28, 1976.
MAY 16 CIRCULAR
The document which is considered to be the formal beginning of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) in China. It was issued by the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party on May 16, 1966, after having been carefully edited and revised by Mao Zedong personally.
[More to be added...]
This May 16 Circular is available at: https://www.marxists.org/subject/china/documents/cpc/cc_gpcr.htm; See also: “Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the C.P.C. Central Committee’s May 16 ‘Circular’”, in Peking Review, vol. 19, #21, May 21, 1976, pp. 3-5, online at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1976/PR1976-21a.htm
MAY 16th ULTRA-LEFT GROUP
More formally known as the “May 16 Counterrevolutionary Clique”, the term adopted in August 1967 by the central leadership during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) in China in condeming this group or trend. Originally this referred only to a small group of college students in Beijing who called themselves the “Capital May 16 Red Guard Regiment”, named after the May 16 Circular of 1966 which was the formal beginning of the GPCR (see entry above). This group secretly distributed leaflets and posted big character posters condemning Premier Zhou Enlai, calling him a “black back-stage supporter of the February Adverse Current” and a “shameful traitor of Mao Zedong Thought”, and said he had betrayed the spirit of the May 16 Circular. They proclaimed: “Thoroughly wreck the bourgeois headquarters! Hold Zhou Enlai to account”.
Mao and the Central Cultural Revolution Small Group directing the GPCR viewed this attack on Zhou as sectarian and disruptive of the unity of the forces leading the Cultural Revolution. Consequently, a campaign was launched against the Capital May 16 Red Guard Regiment and it was suppressed. The campaign then broadened and went nationwide against similar ultra-left or sectarian trends, which were collectively referred to as the “May 16th Ultra-Left Group”, or—in abbreviated form—as “Five-One-Six”. Thus, ironically, “5-1-6” came from that point on to refer not to supporters of the May 16 Circular, but rather to ultra-left or sectarian opponents of it.
In August 1967, when Mao was reading Yao Wenyuan’s article “On Two Books by Tao Zhu”, he cited the “May 16” group as an example of the counterrevolutionaries who, in Yao’s words, “shout slogans that are extreme left in form but extreme right in essence, whip up the ill wind of ‘suspecting all,’ and bombard the proletarian headquarters.” Mao himself wrote: “The organizers and manipulators of the so-called ‘May 16’ are just such a conspiratorial counterrevolutionary clique and must be thoroughly exposed.”
Although the Chinese press referred to the “May 16 Counterrevolutionary Clique” as a massive “conspiracy”, it is very doubtful that there ever was any actual widespread (let alone nationwide) conspiracy. However, this does not mean that there was not a genuine ultra-leftist sectarian trend within many Red Guard organizations and elsewhere that was causing serious trouble and needed to be dealt with. (This is sort of an inevitable result of relying on basically unguided and inexperienced youth to become the leading force in a revolutionary movement, even for a limited period.)
In particular, this ultra-left trend created considerable problems within China’s Foreign Ministry, and for China’s relations with other countries. There were not only protests outside of many foreign embassies in Beijing, some of those embassies were mildly damaged in attacks, with broken windows and their walls covered with posters and graffiti. The Soviet and Indonesian embassies were partially burned. In London there was actually a pitched battle between Chinese embassy personnel and London police on August 29, 1967. Ultra-leftists within the Foreign Ministry took de facto control of it, and provoked incidents and quarrels with over 30 countries, including not only the USSR and old-line imperialist countries like Britain, but even “Third World” countries. In June 1967 two Chinese-speaking diplomats of the Indian embassy were beaten by Red Guards at the Beijing airport as they tried to leave the country after being expelled. Some Red Guards even denounced North Korea’s Kim Il Sung as a “fat revisionist”; and though he may in fact have actually been such a thing, this sort of “foreign policy” made things very difficult for China economically and politically and drove it into extreme isolation. And, unfortunately, this sort of infantile behavior eventually promoted a more rightist foreign policy than would otherwise have been likely to develop. (This is a big general problem with ultra-leftism; because of its absurd excesses which must be suppressed, the situation often tends to swing too far in the other direction and even into revisionism.)
Chen Boda was originally put in charge of dealing with the “May 16th Ultra-Left Group” but as the anti-“5-1-6” campaign spread and became more generalized, he was accused of being a secret supporter of those ultra-left ideas himself, and especially of making accusations against Zhou Enlai. Chen then became a target of the campaign as well. However, he recovered from that criticism, as did many others briefly targetted in the anti-“May 16” campaign. (It was Chen’s later close association with Lin Biao which led to his complete downfall in 1970.) It is said that millions of others were accused of ultra-leftism too, and while this was often overlooked later, over the long run this probably ended up considerably weakening the left in China, and helping the capitalist roaders overthrow the left after Mao’s death. This is another example of how ultra-leftism can play into the hands of the rightists.
It seems like almost everyone else besides Mao was also attacked at one time or another by various elements within this ultraleftist trend, even some of the (so-called) “Gang of Four” themselves! “The ‘bombardment’ against Zhang Chunqiao in February, 1968, came not only from the Right, but also from the ultra-Left, a fairly strong group in Shanghai which had broken with Zhang the year before because they considered him too moderate. This explains why the librarian [an individual recounting his mistreatment by the ‘Gang of Four’ after their downfall]—doubtless no ultraleftist himself—could have come to be associated with the May Sixteenth group. The quarrels and hates between various currents of the Left in Shanghai were without doubt exploited by the new leaders during the campaign against the Four, and were some of the reasons that made impossible a coordinated resistance against the Right’s coup.” [Edoarda Masi, China Winter (1978), p. 308.]
It is an actual fact that, as noted in Peking Review during the GPCR [Jan. 6, 1967, p. 8] everyone in present-day bourgeois society is really a target of the revolution, including the members and leaders of the revolutionary party and, yes, including even each one of us ourselves! However, it is also a fact that everyone is not the enemy of the revolution, nor is everyone to be attacked and criticized at every point in the revolution. Every revolution, to be successful, must unite the vast majority against the small number of genuine die-hard enemies at that point. Later the struggle may focus on different issues, and there will be different people to criticize and different people who resist the changes which are necessary in society and in themselves. But to make everyone the enemy is the mark of utter foolishness and infantilism, and will inevitably lead to the complete failure of the revolution. A firm grasp of dialectics is definitely called for here!
“[Mao] told me ... those officials who had opposed my return to China in 1967 and 1968 had belonged to an ultraleft group which had seized the foreign ministry for a time, but they were all cleared out long ago.” —Edgar Snow, from a report of a conversation he had with Mao in December 1970, Life magazine, April 30, 1971. Online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/Individuals/Snow-Edgar/EdgarSnow-Life-1971-April30.pdf
MAZUMDAR, Charu (1918-72)
[His family name is also often transliterated from Bengali as “Majumdar”.]
A great revolutionary in India who was the leader of the famous armed Naxalbari uprising of peasants in 1967, and one of the main founders of the modern Maoist movement in India. He led in the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969 as a split-off from the revisionist Communist Party of India (Marxist). In 1972 Mazumdar was captured and tortured to death by police, and the CPI(M-L) fractured into many pieces. However, the current powerful and rapidly growing Maoist-led revolutionary movement in India has come together from some of the segments of that old party together with other Maoist forces who had remained outside of the original CPI(M-L).
Charu Mazumdar was born into a progressive landlord family in Siliguri, West Bengal, in 1918. Even as a teenager Mazumdar rebelled against social inequalities, and joined up with the All Bengal Students Association, which was a group of petty-bourgeois nationalist revolutionaries affiliated with the Anusilan group. By the age of 20 he had dropped out of college and joined the Congress Party, and became an an organizer amoung bidi workers. He shifted further left and joined the Communist Party of India, and worked in the Kisan Sabha, its peasant organization, with the poor and oppressed peasants in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. An arrest warrant was issued for him, and he had to go underground for the first time.
The CPI was banned at the beginning of World War II, but Mazumdar continued his peasant organizing work and was elected to the Jalpaiguri district committee of the CPI in 1942. In 1943, mostly because of the British imperialist looting of so much of India’s grain and their indifference to the welfare of the Indian people, a major famine broke out in West Bengal. [See: Famines—Imperialist Caused] Mazumdar organized a fairly successful ‘seizure of crops’ campaign by the peasants in Jalpaiguri during this famine.
In 1946 Mazumdar joined and help lead the Tebhaga Movement of peasants trying to keep more of their harvests from the grasping hands of the landlords. This movement helped shape his conception of revolutionary struggle, and also helped prepare the peasant masses for future revolutionary struggle. Later Mazumdar worked among tea garden workers in Darjeeling. In 1948 the CPI was banned by the government, and Mazumdar was imprisoned for three years. In January 1954 he married fellow CPI member Lila Mazumdar Sengupta.
A growing ideological struggle within the CPI developed after its Palghat Congress in 1956, and Mazumdar quickly gravitated toward the revolutionary left wing. In 1962 he was again imprisoned for opposing the Nehru government’s war against revolutionary China. In 1964 the CPI split, reflecting within India the Sino-Soviet Split, and Mazumdar joined the breakaway CPI (Marxist). But he disagreed with the CPI (Marxist)’s electoral policy and decision to postpone armed struggle until some indefinite point in the far future.
During the mid-1960s Mazumdar organized a left faction within the CPI (Marxist) in northern West Bengal. He was in poor health in 1964-65 but devoted this time, even while in jail, to studying and writing about the path of the Indian revolution on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought. This led to his very influential writings and speeches in the 1965-67 period, which were later called the ‘Historic Eight Documents’.
In 1967 the CPI (Marxist) [or “CPM” as it is generally known] betrayed the revolutionary movement by joining with the bourgeois party, the Bangla Congress, in a coalition government in West Bengal. But on May 25 of that same year Mazumdar showed there was another road possible by leading the peasants in the vicinity of the village of Naxalbari in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal in a historic uprising. The rebels annihilated a notorious police inspector, and took the first step in launching the New Democratic revolution in India. The state government’s Home Ministry, headed by the CPM leader Jyoti Basu, brutally suppressed this uprising, and even murdered 11 women and 2 children in the process. But the ideology of “Naxalism” spread rapidly and inspired revolutionaries around India and South Asia.
Many revolutionaries within the CPM, from 7 different Indian states, then set up what was originally called the All India Coordination Committee of Revolutionaries (AICCR), on Nov. 12-13, 1967. This was renamed the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR), and later launched the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) as a new revolutionary party, on April 2, 1969. Charu Mazumdar was its General Secretary. The CPI(M-L) held its first Party Congress in Kolkata under strict underground conditions in 1970. Mazumdar was re-elected General Secretary, and the Party Congress put forward its basic programme of protracted people’s war, including the annihilation (killing) of class enemies.
Of course the Indian ruling class, both in West Bengal and around the country, mounted a fierce crackdown on this new revolutionary movement, and this reached a peak during and after 1971 when many key Naxalite leaders were killed. Mazumdar was apparently betrayed by a renegade Party member, and was arrested in Kolkata on July 16, 1972. He was taken to Kolkata police headquarters in the Lal Bazar neighborhood where he underwent the most horrifying and cruel tortures. No one, not even his family, his lawyer, or a doctor, was allowed to see him. He died at 4 a.m. on July 28, while in police custody.
Although there were some secondary aspects of Charu Mazumdar’s precise political line which were in error, including the prescription that Mao Tse-tung should personally be considered the Chairman not only of the Chinese Communist Party but also the CPI(M-L), Mazumdar was nevertheless a great revolutionary who made extremely important contributions to the revolutionary movement in India and the world. He is a martyr who is rightly well remembered and honored by our revolutionary movement.
Much of the information in this entry comes from http://imp-personalities.blogspot.com/2007/09/charu-majumdar-father-of-naxalism.html Many of Mazumdar’s political writings can be found in the Marxist Internet Archive at http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mazumdar/
[To be added...]
See also: RED BAITING
McGOVERN, George (1922-2012)
Liberal American historian and U.S. Senator from South Dakota who was the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 1972, and who then lost to Richard Nixon. He won that nomination because of his outspoken opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam which deeply divided ruling class politics in the United States.
“McGovern, who had supported Henry Wallace’s campaign for president in 1948, was probably the most left-wing major party presidential condidate in US history.” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready (2016), p. 185. [Though this is likely true, it still only shows how phony the label “left-wing” actually is in bourgeois politics, since McGovern was certainly not in any way an opponent of the capitalist system. —Ed.]
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